200,000 Americans or More Have HIV and Don't Know It


The number of adults tested for HIV reached a record high in 2009, according to an analysis of national survey data released today in a CDC Vital Signs report. Last year 82.9 million adults between 18 and 64 reported having been tested for HIV. This number represents an increase of 11.4 million people since 2006, when CDC recommended that HIV testing become a routine part of medical care for adults and adolescents, and that people at high risk of infection be tested at least once a year.

Despite this progress, 55 percent of adults -- and 28.3 percent of adults with a risk factor for HIV -- have not been tested.

"Today's news shows that we have had progress increasing testing, and that more progress is both necessary and possible," says Thomas R. Frieden, MD, MPH, CDC director. "With most adults and with nearly a third of high-risk people having never been tested for HIV, we need to do more to ensure that all Americans have access to voluntary, routine and early HIV testing in order to save lives and reduce the spread of this terrible disease."

The December Vital Signs report indicates that the percentage of adults who had been tested at least once in their lives increased to 45 percent in 2009, after holding steady at approximately 40 percent from 2001 to 2006.

CDC estimates that 1.1 million adults are living with HIV and that as many as 1 in 5 of these individuals (approximately 200,000 Americans) does not know that they are infected. Reducing the number of undiagnosed infections is a critical component of HIV prevention, as most sexually transmitted HIV infections in the United States are transmitted by people who are unaware of their infection. Research shows that once people learn they are infected, most take steps to protect their partners. Furthermore, people who are diagnosed earlier have longer life expectancies because they can benefit from HIV care and treatment.

The Vital Signs report also highlights surveillance data showing that many people with HIV are diagnosed too late in their infection to take full advantage of effective treatment options and protect their partners from infection. In the 37 states with long-standing, confidential, name-based HIV reporting systems, 32 percent of people diagnosed with HIV in 2007 progressed to AIDS within 12 months, indicating a late diagnosis and missed opportunities for treatment.

CDC is working with health care providers and state and local public health agencies to continue increasing access to routine HIV testing during medical visits, while also expanding community-based HIV testing programs that reach people outside of health care settings.

This summer, the White House announced the National HIV/AIDS Strategy, which includes the goal of increasing the proportion of HIV-infected individuals who are aware of their HIV status to 90 percent. Consistent with this goal, in 2010 CDC provided $60 million to support HIV testing efforts in 30 of America's jurisdictions most heavily impacted by HIV.

The funding allows CDC and its partners to expand a successful three-year initiative to increase access to HIV testing among African-Americans, Latinos, men who have sex with men, and injection drug users.

For more information on HIV testing and prevention, visit www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns or www.cdc.gov/hiv.

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