London, Aug 3 : The number of Americans infected with HIV, the virus that leads to AIDS, is significantly higher than current government estimates, US health officials have said.
According to estimates by The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 56,000 people had become infected with the AIDS virus by 2006, which was considerably more than the earlier annual estimate of 40,000.
But instead of attributing it to an increase in infections, the CDC said that the rise was due to improved detection methods. In fact, it is also believed that the increase is because of new statistical methods.
Figures have revealed that almost 24-27 percent of the US nationals don't know if they are infected.
In 2006, 53 percent of infections occurred in gay and bisexual men, the statistics show.
Richard Wolitski, form CDC said that the 2006 incidence estimate "reveals that the epidemic is, and has been, worse than previously estimated".
The CDC described the findings as a "wake-up call that the US HIV/Aids epidemic is far from over".
"The new estimates underscore the need to expand access to HIV prevention to gay and bisexual men, especially younger men, and to expand access to African-American men and women as well," BBC quoted Wolitski, as saying.
The revised estimates and the methodology behind it are due to be presented at the opening of an international Aids conference in Mexico City.