One-Fifth of People at High Risk of HIV Are Tested Annually in U.S., Study Says
About one-fifth of U.S. residents considered to be at high risk of HIV received an HIV test in any given year between 2000 and 2005, according to a study published Monday in the Archives of Internal Medicine, Reuters reports.
Researchers examined responses from 147,000 U.S. residents ages 18 to 64 who participated in CDC health surveys from 2000 through 2005. The researchers found that "rates of past-year HIV testing remained constant and low throughout the study period." According to the study, 10% of all respondents reported they had received an HIV test in the previous year. About 38% of respondents had never been tested for HIV, the study found.
Among people at high risk of HIV -- including injection drug users and men who have sex with men -- 22% had been tested in the previous year. Twenty-seven percent of people at high risk said they had planned to be tested for the virus in the upcoming year, but only 11% sought out an HIV test in the previous year. About 19% of those considered to be at medium risk for HIV were tested in a given year, the study found. About half of people at high risk who received HIV tests were tested on their own initiative. The other half received tests as part of medical examinations, health insurance applications, prenatal care, military entrance or other reasons -- suggesting that policies to integrate HIV testing have had some success -- the study said.
"Large differences in testing rates according to race and sex remained relatively constant, with minority females reporting the highest rates of testing and white males reporting the lowest rates," the researchers said. Brian Pence, an epidemiologist at Duke University who participated in the study, said that about 1.1 million Americans are HIV-positive and that about 25% of them do not know they are living with the virus.
"The (AIDS prevention) information is getting out there," Pence said, adding, "High-risk groups are appropriately assessing their risk and are interested in testing. And yet there's this gap between intention and action." Pence added that expanded HIV testing is a key step in curbing the spread of the virus in the U.S. (Dunham, Reuters, 10/22).
An abstract of the study is available online.