New data has revealed that fewer than 40% of people in the United States have ever had an HIV test.
Furthermore, fewer than 30% people at high risk of acquiring the virus had not had a test in the past year.
Released on National HIV Testing Day, the data showed an urgent need to scale up testing in the US.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released the data. It recommended that everyone aged between 13 – 64 years get tested at least once in their lifetime,
The CDC released the data in its report, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR). The reports also showed in the 50 local jurisdictions where more than half of diagnoses occur, fewer than 35% of people recommended for annual testing were tested in the past year.
‘As we encourage those at risk for HIV to seek care, we need to meet them in their journey,’ said CDC director Robert R. Redfield.
‘This means clearing the path of stigma, finding more comfortable ways of delivering health services, as well as learning from individuals already in treatment so the journey becomes easier for others who follow.’
CDC recommended men who have sex with men, injecting drug users, anyone who has had more than one sex partner since their last test, and people who have been diagnosed with another sexually transmitted infections, should get tested at least once a year.
‘Knowledge is power when it comes to HIV—that is why everyone in America should get an HIV test at least once in our lives,’ said Jonathan Mermin, director of CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD and TB Prevention.
‘It is a simple way we can all help end the HIV epidemic in the U.S.’
Calls for HIV funding
The proposed HHS-wide initiative, Ending the HIV Epidemic – A Plan for America is a new multiyear initiative designed to end HIV over 10 years by significantly increasing public health resources, technology, and expertise on the ground in the hardest-impacted areas.
The plan, if funded, will focus first on the geographic areas with the greatest burden. That includes the 50 local jurisdictions and seven states highlighted in the report.
‘Getting tested for HIV is quicker and easier than ever before – and when you take the test, you take control,’ said Eugene McCray, director of CDC’s Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention.
‘It’s my hope that through the initiative to end the HIV epidemic, we will increase testing and early diagnosis, speed linkages to care, and help ensure rapid treatment is available to help save lives and prevent new HIV infections.’
The call for funding comes just weeks after US President Donald Trump’s administration cut funding to research done by government scientists using fetal tissue. This severely limits research done in the area.