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More, but Not Enough, Americans Get AIDS Tests

December 1, 2010

CDC said Tuesday that nearly 83 million Americans have undergone HIV testing, 11.4 million of them since the agency issued guidelines in 2006 making screening a routine part of health care.

"Today's data shows that following those recommendations, there was a significant increase in the number of Americans who were tested for the first time," said CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden.

In 2006, 40 percent of US adults reported they had been tested for HIV at some point in their lives. By 2009, 45 percent had. "The numbers show that progress is possible," Frieden said. "They also show that progress is needed. To see a steady improvement in just a two or three year period, I think, is quite encouraging," he told a news conference. "It's progress but it's not success."

CDC said 55 percent of adults, and 28.3 percent of at-risk adults, have not been tested for HIV. Of people diagnosed with HIV in 2007, 32 percent progressed to AIDS within one year. "In other words, they had unknowingly been infected with HIV for years without being diagnosed," said Dr. Jonathan Mermin, director of CDC's HIV/AIDS prevention program.

CDC estimates that 1.1 million Americans have HIV, with 56,000 new infections occurring annually. Roughly 200,000 people are infected with the virus and do not know it, said Frieden. "People who know they are [HIV-]positive cut their risky behaviors in half," he said.

CDC in 2006 said providers should routinely offer voluntary opt-out HIV testing to everyone ages 13-64. People at high risk, such as gay men and IV drug users, should get tested annually, while all pregnant women should be tested to protect their infants, the guidelines state. HIV tests "should be a normal, routine part of care," said Frieden.

The early release report, "Vital Signs: HIV Testing and Diagnosis Among Adults -- United States, 2001-2009," was published in CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (2010;59:1-6). For more information, visit http://cdc.gov/vitalsigns/HIVtesting/index.html.

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Excerpted from:
Reuters
11.30.2010; Maggie Fox




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