The CDC (Center for Disease Control) recently held a press call ahead of World’s Aid day with CDC Director Brenda Fitzgerald, M.D., Jonathan Mermin, M.D., M.P.H., Director, CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention and Eugene McCray, M.D., Director, CDC’s Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention. The CDC leaders shared a recent report that found the estimated median time from HIV infection to diagnosis was three years in 2015. CDC previously estimated that, in 2011, the median time from HIV infection to diagnosis was three years and seven months.
“Ideally, HIV is diagnosed within months of infection, rather than years later,” said Eugene McCray, M.D., director of CDC’s Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention. “Further increasing regular HIV testing and closing testing, diagnoses and treatment gaps is essential to stopping HIV in our communities.”
The new findings may seem minimal but the seven-month improvement is a considerable decrease over a four-year period according to the CDC. The government agency also reported other recent signs that the nation’s approach to HIV prevention is paying off. Overall, 85 percent of the estimated 1.1 million people living with HIV in 2014 knew their HIV status. CDC estimates about 40 percent of new HIV infections originate from people who don’t know they have HIV.
“These findings are more encouraging signs that the tide continues to turn on our nation’s HIV epidemic,” said CDC Director Brenda Fitzgerald, M.D. “HIV is being diagnosed more quickly, the number of people who have the virus under control is up, and annual infections are down. So, while we celebrate our progress, we pledge to work together to end this epidemic forever.”
The CDC stresses getting an HIV test is the first step to starting treatment and getting the virus under control. CDC estimates more than 40 percent of new HIV infections are from people who don’t know they have HIV.
“If you are at risk for HIV, don’t guess — get a test,” said Jonathan Mermin, M.D., M.P.H, director of CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention. “The benefits are clear. Prompt diagnosis is prevention. It is the first step to protecting people living with HIV and their partners.”
According the the CDC:
• African Americans are the racial/ethnic group most affected by HIV in the United States.
• Gay and bisexual men account for a majority of new HIV diagnoses among African Americans.
• There are promising signs of progress, especially among women and those who inject drugs.
• African Americans accounted for 45% of HIV diagnoses, though they comprise 12% of the US population.
CDC recommends testing all people ages 13-64 for HIV at least once in their lifetime, and people at higher risk for HIV at least annually. Healthcare providers may find it beneficial to test some sexually active gay and bisexual men more frequently (e.g., every three to six months).