U.S. HIV diagnoses
improving, but progress varies: CDC
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[November 29, 2017] By
CHICAGO (Reuters) - Delays in the time
between becoming infected with HIV and getting a diagnosis are
shortening, helped by efforts to increase testing for the virus that
causes AIDS, U.S. health officials said.
The report, released on Tuesday by the Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention, found that 50 percent of the 39,720 people diagnosed
with HIV in 2015 had been infected for at least three years, a
seven-month improvement compared with 2011.
Nevertheless, 25 percent of people diagnosed with HIV in 2015 were
infected for seven years or more before being diagnosed.
CDC Director Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald said the report shows the nation
is making progress in the fight against HIV, but the gains are
uneven, and challenges remain.
"Too many people have HIV infections that go undiagnosed for far too
long," Fitzgerald said in a conference call with reporters.
Shortening the time between HIV infection and diagnosis is key to
prevention. The CDC estimates that about 40 percent of new HIV
infections are caused by people who did not know they were infected.
Although testing rates increased overall, an estimated 15 percent of
people living with HIV in 2015 did not know they were infected, and
half of people who were unaware of their infection in 2015 lived in
The report found many other disparities, with delays in diagnosis
varying significantly by race/ethnicity and gender. For example, the
estimated time from HIV infection to diagnosis was a median of five
years for heterosexual men, twice as long as heterosexual women. The
median was three years for gay and bisexual men.
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"The report tells us some groups, particularly heterosexual men and
racial and ethnic minorities, live with HIV longer than other groups
before they are diagnosed," Dr. Jonathan Mermin, director of CDCís
National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB
Prevention, told the briefing.
Among high risk individuals, many reported not being tested in the
prior year, including 29 percent of gay and bisexual men, 42 percent
of people who inject drugs and 59 percent of heterosexuals at
increased risk for HIV.
Two thirds of those who had not been tested for HIV in the prior
year had seen a healthcare provider, which Mermin considered a
missed opportunity for testing.
People who are diagnosed and take medications to control HIV are
significantly less likely to spread the disease.
(Reporting by Julie SteenhuysenEditing by Marguerita Choy)
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