Ahead of World AIDS Day, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released an encouraging study for people living with HIV.

Death rates related to HIV dropped significantly for people 13 years and older in the United States from 2010 to 2017. The CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report showed a decline of 48% in the number of HIV-related deaths per 1,000 people living with the virus. In 2017, HIV-related causes were attributed to 5,534 deaths among 16,358 people.

CDC leaders say that the 4.7% death rate shows their plan is working.

“The decline in HIV-related deaths proves that investments in HIV testing, care and treatment are paying off, but we should also protect people from getting HIV in the first place,” said Jonathan Mermin, M.D., Director of CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD and TB Prevention. “Through the Ending the HIV Epidemic initiative, we are working to accelerate progress and ultimately make this a thing of the past.”

The study also revealed two statistics moving in the right direction. The number of Americans who knew their HIV status rose to 86% while the number who had achieved undetectable viral loads had risen from 46% to 65%. 

Blacks/African Americans had the highest death rates (5.6%) followed by Latinos, Hispanics and Whites (3.9%). In geographic terms, the death rate was highest in the South (6%) and lowest in the Northeast (3.2%).

Despite the study’s hopeful results, the CDC notes there are 36,000 new HIV transmissions annually and the virus remains a leading cause of death for people ages 25 to 44. The CDC estimated 1.2 million Americans had HIV at the end of 2018.