Most Americans have never had an HIV test and fewer than a third of the most at-risk individuals have been inspected at least in the past year, according to new CDC data.
US health officials are armed with funds and resources to launch a multi-faceted campaign to drastically reduce HIV transmissions in the near future, with the aim of ending new diagnoses by 2030.
First, they have reserved the 50 cities and seven rural areas with the highest rates of HIV transmission in the country, most of which are in impoverished parts of the south, where many have no health insurance.
Researchers are now investigating where there are gaps in testing to prevent inadvertent transmission of people who can use viral suppressive drugs, making HIV intolerable.
The new report published today in the CDC & # 39; Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report & # 39; is published, coinciding with National HIV Testing Day, shows that these gaps are wide, gaping and widespread.
How to end a new HIV diagnosis: this map (from 2015 statistics) shows that the South is responsible for half of the new HIV diagnoses, concentrated in 46 provinces (from the 3000 districts of America). Officials try to end new diagnoses by increasing the test speed
Less than 40 percent of all Americans were tested for HIV last year, and less than 30 percent of those who were most at risk – i.e., men who have sex with men and intravenous drug users – had done this.
Less than 35 percent were tested in the 50 cities with the highest transmission rates.
In the targeted rural areas of the CDC, only 26 percent of people were tested for the sexually transmitted disease.
& # 39; Diagnosis and treatment are the first steps to ensure normal life expectancy for people with HIV & # 39 ;, said CDC director Robert R. Redfield, MD.
& # 39; Because we encourage people at risk for HIV to seek care, we need to meet them on their journey.
& # 39; This means clearing the path of stigma, finding more comfortable ways to deliver health services, and also learning from people who are already being treated, making the journey easier for others to follow. & # 39;
About one in seven people with HIV does not know they have it, according to CDC estimates.
Those at risk of HIV can take PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis), which reduces the risk of HIV by 99 percent – in other words, more effectively than the pill prevents pregnancy.
Those diagnosed with HIV can take ART (anti-retroviral therapy). After six months of religious use of the drug, a person's viral load becomes undetectable on standard tests and not transferable to sexual partners.
The arrival of PrEP and ART has not eliminated HIV, but meant that it is possible to live a long, happy, healthy life with the virus, without feeling like being a disease vector or fearing that HIV negative partners would be affected.
Virus suppressing drugs (after 6 months) make the viral load of a person not detectable and therefore non-transferable
Going through the test process can, however, be more complex than it appears. It is difficult to make an appointment and go to the clinic, an obstacle that many people have trouble overcoming. In some cases you have to pay for the services, which can be another deterrent. And for some, especially gay minorities living in the south, there is still enough stigma to overcome when testing for HIV; it can feel like being excluded.
The new program to end HIV, compiled earlier this year by the best US health officials, will explore ways to make testing more accessible.
& # 39; Knowledge is power when it comes to HIV – that's why everyone in America needs to undergo an HIV test at least once in our lives, & quot; said Jonathan Mermin, MD, director of CDC & # 39; s National Center for HIV / AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD and TB Prevention.
& # 39; It's an easy way to end the HIV epidemic in the US. & # 39;
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