Study Finds Opportunities for More HIV Testing in U.S.

Less than 25 percent of individuals at medium or high risk reported an HIV test within the last year

TUESDAY, Oct. 23 (HealthDay News) -- Low rates of HIV testing are likely contributing to a "substantial" number of undiagnosed cases in the United States, according to research presented in the Oct. 22 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Jan Ostermann, Ph.D., of Duke University in Durham, N.C., and colleagues analyzed data from six consecutive annual National Health Interview Surveys, which asked 146,868 participants, aged 18 to 64 years, about past HIV testing, planned future testing, and risk exposure and perceptions.

Testing rates over the 2000-2005 survey period remained low and relatively steady, with lifetime and past year rates of 37 percent and 10 percent, respectively. Females and non-white minorities were most likely to report testing. People reporting medium and high self-perceived risk were more likely to plan to get tested than actually do so. Also, the investigators found, almost half of HIV tests were done during medical check-ups or prenatal care.

"Increased integration of HIV testing into routine medical care, as currently recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is likely to increase overall testing rates in the United States," the authors write. "Although groups at higher risk of HIV (including those with heavier alcohol use and depressive symptoms) have higher rates of both planned and actual testing, it is precisely these groups who exhibit the greatest gaps between testing intention and action. These findings suggest that considerable potential exists to increase testing in higher-risk groups if individual and structural barriers can be identified and addressed."

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