24 Jun New HIV Infection Rates Decreasing Too Slowly, American Academy of HIV Medicine Calls For a Routine HIV Testing Push in All Healthcare Settings on National HIV Testing Day
Washington, DC: The American Academy of HIV Medicine today called for an increased push for HIV testing in response to new numbers released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). While two new reports by the CDC show a decrease in HIV infections nationwide, the rate of decline is not in step with meeting the goals of the national Ending the HIV Epidemic (EHE) initiative. In order to rapidly accelerate the reduction in cases, broad HIV testing is imperative.
“In order to hit our EHE goals, we need interventions across the continuum of care, and it starts at the very first step: testing,” stated Bruce J Packett, executive director of the Academy. “In advance of June 27, National HIV Testing Day, we’re calling for a nationwide scale-up of routine testing, with a special emphasis on the disadvantaged communities and communities of color most affected.”
The reports Estimated HIV Incidence and Prevalence in the United States, 2015–2019 and Diagnoses of HIV Infection in the United States and Dependent Areas, 2019 showed an 8 percent decline in new HIV infections from 2015 to 2019 and a large drop in infections among young men who have sex with men (MSM) over recent years, which contribute to this overall decrease. However, young Black and Latino MSM continue to be disproportionately affected.
According to the new data, at the end of 2019, an estimated 1.2 million people 13 and older were living with HIV, including about 13 percent of people who had not been diagnosed. This 13 percent is the target for increased HIV testing.
The Academy encourages healthcare providers across the country to help reduce this number by strictly following CDC’s National HIV Testing Guidelines, which recommend that all individuals between the ages of 13 and 64 get tested for HIV at least once as part of routine healthcare. The Academy supports these guidelines and emphasizes that focusing solely on testing populations with perceived risk factors is too limiting.
“While populations with higher incidence rates of HIV should be tested more frequently as recommended by the CDC, attempting to identify who else should be tested based upon guesswork or self-reported risk factors is short-sighted and may work to increase the stigma that still surrounds HIV,” stated Packett. “The Academy and other public health experts have been saying for 15 years, at least, that HIV testing should be a part of routine medical care.”
Broad testing is a vital component to ending the HIV epidemic as acknowledged in the Ending the HIV Epidemic: A Plan for America (EHE), with cost not being a significant barrier. HIV screening among the general population is cost effective and comparable to other screenings and medical interventions. In fact, the price is much higher if testing is limited.
“We know the data show that people who know their HIV positive status are more likely to take precautions to reduce the spread of HIV disease,” concluded Packett. “Targeting the 13 percent of those currently with HIV who do not know their status, as well as those at risk, will give us the added push we need to further slow new infections, ensuring these individuals are in either therapeutic or preventative treatment, thus stopping transmissibility in its tracks.”
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The American Academy of HIV Medicine is the nation’s leading independent organization of healthcare professionals dedicated to providing excellence in HIV care and prevention. Our membership of practitioners and credentialed providers manage the health of the majority of people with and at risk for HIV in the United States.