HIV infection, the virus responsible for AIDS, is still most often diagnosed in the United States only three years on average after a person has contracted it, according to a report from health authorities released Tuesday.
This delay represents a significant improvement over the previous estimate of three years and seven months in 2011, say the authors of this study Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), based on 2015 figures.
While welcoming this “significant improvement,” the CDC emphasizes the need for people at risk to be tested more often as 40% of new HIV infections are HIV-positive and unaware.
“If you’re at risk of getting HIV, get tested,” says Jonathan Mermin, director of the National Center for HIV / AIDS, Hepatitis and Tuberculosis Prevention at CDC.
“The benefits are clear: a quick diagnosis can improve prevention,” he says.
“When HIV infection is diagnosed faster, the number of people who can control the virus – by antiretroviral therapy. – increases and new infections decrease, “adds Brenda Fitzgerald, director of the CDC.
The CDC therefore recommends that all persons between the ages of 13 and 64 be tested at least once in their lifetime.
For those at high risk of infection, such as sexually active homosexual and bisexual men, health authorities believe that testing should be conducted at least once a year or every six months. The same frequency is recommended for the 42% of people who inject drugs and the 59% of heterosexuals who are at increased risk of contracting HIV.
According to the latest CDC report, 29% of gay and bisexual people have not been tested for HIV in the past 12 months. And a quarter of people who were diagnosed with HIV in 2015 had been infected for seven years or more without knowing it.
In heterosexual men, the median time between the time of infection and the diagnosis is five years, compared to two and a half years for heterosexual women and those who use syringes to inject drugs.
Of the 1.1 million people living with HIV in the United States, 85% know they are infected, according to the latest CDC estimates.