HIV Risk: Don't Guess, Get a Test

HIV diagnosis time showed progress, but room for improvement remains

(RxWiki News) A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) highlighted a seven-month improvement in the time between HIV infection and diagnosis.

In 2015, the estimated median time from HIV infection to diagnosis was three years. That time frame was three years and seven months in 2011.

A decrease in time to diagnosis may indicate a shift to preventive care and increased risk reduction for people who do not have the virus, according to the CDC. The agency emphasized that HIV testing is the first step in protecting those who do not have HIV and starting proper treatment in those living with the virus.

HIV is a virus that affects the immune system and makes it hard for the body to fight infections. The CDC estimated that 1.1 million people across the United States are living with HIV. An estimated 166,000 people may be living with HIV but not aware that they are infected. People who have the virus but are not getting treatment face a greater risk of complications and spreading the virus to others.

“Ideally, HIV is diagnosed within months of infection, rather than years later,” said Dr. Eugene McCray, director of the CDC’s Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention, in a press release. “Further increasing regular HIV testing and closing testing, diagnoses, and treatment gaps is essential to stopping HIV in our communities.”

The CDC said all people between the ages of 13 and 64 should get tested for HIV at least once. For those who are at higher risk, the CDC recommended yearly testing.

One study surveyed gay and bisexual men, people who injected drugs, and heterosexuals at increased risk and found that 29 percent, 42 percent and 59 percent, respectively, did not get tested for HIV within the previous year. Additionally, 7 out of 10 of these high-risk patients said they saw a health care provider during the year they did not get tested.

"So while we celebrate our progress, we pledge to work together to end this epidemic forever," said CDC Director Brenda Fitzgerald in a press release.

Speak with your health care provider if you have any questions about getting tested for HIV.

This report was published in the CDC's Vital Signs report.