TUESDAY, Nov. 30 (HealthDay News) -- HIV testing in the United
States is at a record high, but more than 200,000 Americans are
infected and don't know it, a U.S. government report released
"The numbers show that progress is possible; they also show how much more progress is needed," Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said during a late-morning press conference Tuesday.
Last year, 82.9 million adults ages18 to 64 said they had ever
been tested for HIV -- 11.4 million more than the total in
As of 2009, 45 percent of adults had been tested at least once
in their lives, up from 40 percent four years ago, the report
That's the good news, but 55 percent of adults, and 28.3 percent
of adults at risk for HIV, have never been tested, according to the
According to the CDC, 1.1 million U.S. adults are living with
HIV and as many as one in five is unaware of it.
Diagnosis is essential because most cases of sexually
transmitted HIV in the United States are spread by people who don't
know they are infected. But when they learn they are infected,
people usually take steps to protect their partners, the CDC
A CDC survey of 37 states found 32 percent of those diagnosed
with HIV in 2007 progressed to AIDS within a year. This late
diagnosis meant missed opportunities for treatment, the agency
says. With early diagnosis, HIV is treated like a chronic
In 2006, the CDC recommended that HIV-testing become a regular
part of medical care for adults and adolescents and that those at
high risk for the AIDS-causing virus get tested at least once a
More needs to be done to make HIV testing a routine part of
health care, Dr. Jonathan Mermin, director of CDC's HIV/AIDS
Prevention Program, said during the press conference.
"It is important that state policies support routine HIV testing [and reduce] the barriers of lengthy counseling and lengthy informed consent," he said.
Health care providers need to do a better job of making testing
more available, Mermin said.
Commenting on the report, Dr. Michael Kolber, professor and
director of the comprehensive AIDS program at the University of
Miami Miller School of Medicine, said "frequent testing is
Yearly testing is needed for those most at risk for HIV, he
said. These include blacks, Hispanics, men who have sex with men
and injection drug users.
But increasing testing rates is not easy, Kolber said.
HIV still carries a stigma, making testing a touchy area, Kolber
said. "Because of the confidentiality associated with HIV, it's not
considered the same as any sexually transmitted disease," he
For more information on HIV/AIDS, visit the
U.S. Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention.