New data released by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that fewer than 1 in 4 (40%) Americans has ever had an HIV test. The CDC recommends that everyone between the ages of 13-64 be tested at least once.
The numbers, released on National HIV Testing Day, are also not good for those who have a higher risk of HIV infection: less than 35% of Americans in high risk groups were not tested in the last year.
The CDC categorizes men who are sexually active with other men, injectable drug users, those who have had sex with more than one partner since their last HIV test, and anyone diagnosed with another STI, tuberculosis, or hepatitis.
What’s more, of those in states with rural areas that have been hardest hit with HIV in the last year, only 26% of residents have gotten an HIV test in that time period. Only 35% of people recommended for annual testing for HIV were actually tested.
Related: Straight people’s HIV rates hold steady as gay & bi men’s drops
“Diagnosis and treatment are the first steps toward affording individuals living with HIV a normal life expectancy,” said CDC Director Robert R. Redfield M.D. “As we encourage those at risk for HIV to seek care, we need to meet them in their journey. 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.”
The CDC recommends that everyone get tested, noting that a negative result can allow a person to seek preventative options such as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), while a positive result can lead a person to appropriate care and treatment.
“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 director of CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD and TB Prevention, Jonathan Mermin, M.D., M.P.H., via a press release. “It is a simple way we can all help end the HIV epidemic in the U.S.”
The information was part of the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR). Additional information from the CDC on ending the HIV epidemic can be found on their website.