40% of People with HIV Get Tested Late
Two separate studies presented yesterday at the National HIV Prevention Conference in Atlanta found that nearly two out of every five people with HIV live with the disease for almost a decade before being tested, "forgoing life-prolonging treatment and potentially infecting others," the Atlanta
Journal-Constitution reports. In the first study, the CDC surveyed 19,000 AIDS patients in 12 states between 1990 and 1999 and found that 40% learned of their HIV status in the 12 months prior to being diagnosed with AIDS (McKenna, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 8/15). In the second study, researchers with Kaiser Permanente examined the medical records of 434 HIV-positive patients and found that 40% "displayed symptoms of infection or told health care providers of risky behavior" more than a year before being diagnosed with HIV. Because it usually takes up to a decade for HIV to progress to an AIDS diagnosis, the findings are significant because many infected people unaware of their status are not receiving treatment and possibly infecting others. "We must reach these individuals at an earlier stage of infection for their own health and to prevent transmission to others," Dr. Ron Valdiserri, deputy director of the CDC's HIV prevention programs, said (Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 8/15).