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CDC: 250,000 Americans Are Unaware They Are HIV-Positive

Posted by Chrissie Cole
Friday, August 08, 2008 10:48 PM EST
Category: Major Medical
Tags: HIV, AIDS, Public Health, Sexually Transmitted Disease, FDA and Prescription Drugs


IMAGE SOURCE: © WikiMedia Commons / HIV Stages/ Ashvidia

A new study released by researchers of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates 250,000 Americans in non-high-risk groups are HIV positive, but don’t know it.

In the past, people have commonly associated the virus with drug use and men engaging in sex with other men.

But the epidemic has been showing a spike in reported cases of HIV in heterosexual transmissions and among women said, Bernard Branson, director of the CDCs division of HIV/AIDS Prevention.

A person who is HIV-positive, but unaware they are infected, is three times more likely to transmit the infection than a person who is aware they have it.

Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) is caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and may be contracted through exposure to bodily fluids, including but not limited to blood and semen.

Based on the study findings, new tactics are needed to help increase HIV testing and awareness, especially among those disproportionately affected by HIV-infection, researchers wrote.

Research data was based on the National Health Interview Survey, which occasionally surveys persons between the ages of 18 to 64.

In 1987 an estimated 6 percent of the U.S. population had ever been tested for the virus.

By the 1990s, nearly 15 percent of Americans had been tested each year and the total for persons who had never been tested reached 38 percent in 2000.

The total has remained the same at 40 percent of the population thereafter.

38 percent of persons newly diagnosed with HIV advanced to an AIDS diagnosis within about a year, noted researchers. Early diagnosis helps to lessen the likelihood of the patient spreading the virus and early drug therapy helps to increase the chance of controlling the infection.

The study also concluded that those people that fall into high-risk groups – such as prostitutes, needle drug users, gay men and those who have an HIV-positive partner – were more likely to go for testing than others.

The CDC estimated in 2008, that about 56,300 people were infected with HIV in 2006 (the most recent year data is available). Visit the HIV incidence page for more details.

The study titled, “Persons Tested for HIV - United States, 2006,” was published in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. #

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