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New HIV infections among black women in the U.S. are declining for the first time in more than a decade among black women and researchers are watching to see if this will become a long-term trend, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said as it prepares for the 13th annual observance of National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day on Thursday.

“We do have some good news,” Dr. Donna McCree, associate director of the Health Equity Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention for the CDC, told

“The recent data we just released showed a decline for the first time in over a decade. We know that black women accounted for 13 percent of new cases and that nearly two-thirds of new cases, about 64 percent, are among women.”

McCree said there was a 21 percent decline in new cases among women overall, but the cause is not yet clear.

“The data don’t really examine specifically the reasons for the decline. It will take additional years of research to determine if this is the beginning of a long-term trend.”

She said the CDC’s efforts, coupled with intensive efforts throughout the black community to call attention to the AIDS epidemic, to get people tested, into treatment and educated about prevention all are having an impact, along with promising research.

Newly diagnosed HIV-positive individuals who start medical treatment early reduces the risk of passing the virus to another person and some people are living longer and healthier lives with proper treatment.

In addition, the Food and Drug Administration has approved a once-daily pill that helps reduce the risk of HIV transmission.

To ensure the promising results from the available tools to fight HIV, however, African Americans must get into and stay in effective care and treatment to protect their health and that of their partners.

Because so many black Americans are living with HIV, there is a greater risk of infection with every sexual encounter, according to the CDC.

“We really can’t let up,” McCree said.

She said the CDC is also launching a new three-year, $43 million initiative to spread awareness, eliminate social and environmental barriers to preventing HIV and reducing health disparities in communities of color.