HIV Testing as a policy issue deals with the federal and state laws affecting HIV testing, HIV testing efforts through public health entities and programs, and coverage and reimbursement of HIV testing by insurers.
For more information on the clinical aspects of HIV Testing, visit our Provider Resources Section and our Clinical Topics Library, and view the HIV Testing clinical topic page and the Routine HIV Testing pages
The CDC estimates that there are 56,000 transmissions of HIV in the U.S. each year. Of this number, the CDC estimates that 18% of all HIV-infected individuals are unaware they are HIV positive. About half of new infections are caused by persons who are unaware of their status.
HIV testing has enabled individuals with HIV to become aware of their health status and to take appropriate precautions to preserve their health.
Identifying people with HIV disease earlier and connecting them with HIV care and treatment earlier results in better health outcomes and the delivery of more cost effective care.
The use of antiretroviral therapy by infected persons also drastically reduces their infectiousness. Additionally, studies have shown that people who know their HIV positive status are more likely to take precautions to reduce the spread of HIV disease. So identifying those with the disease offers a significant public health opportunity to get infected individuals into care and treatment, and also prevent others from contracting the disease.
The National HIV/AIDS Strategy noted the role of testing in allowing individuals to be made aware of their status, to take action to preserve their health, and take precautions to reduce the likelihood of transmission.
The Strategy set a goal for expanding the number of people who know of their HIV infection from 79% to 90%. It also set goals for better coordination and promotion of HIV testing throughout various federal agencies.
Some states still have laws that are not fully compatible with CDC recommendations in the
areas of counseling and consent. This may impede testing efforts.
Learn more about HIV Testing Laws and the CDC’s policy recommendations on HIV Testing
Coverage and Reimbursement of HIV Testing
HIV screening among the general population is cost effective and the cost is comparable to other screenings and medical interventions.
One barrier to promotion of HIV testing is a lack of coverage of, or inadequate reimbursement for testing procedures.
Learn more about HIV Testing Coverage and Reimbursement issues.