More than 1.1 million people in the U.S. is living with HIV. Yet one in seven of them doesn’t know it. One problem: men aren’t getting diagnosed. Now, there’s a new strategy to get these guys tested.
About 15 percent of people with HIV don’t know they have the virus! Doctors say this is a problem because early diagnosis is the key to a better outcome. That’s because of HIV.
“Is a very treatable condition if it’s caught early and treated early,” says Rachel Presti, MD, PhD with Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.
A simple blood test is all it takes to detect HIV, but many men don’t get tested. In a new study conducted in East Africa, researchers looked at whether giving pregnant women self-testing kits for their partners could boost testing rates. They found providing the kits along with an incentive to attend an HIV clinic did do the trick. After 28 days, just 17 percent of men in the control group were tested for HIV but 87 percent to 95 percent of those in the intervention group got tested.
“A lot of people still get diagnosed late, so they may have opportunistic infections that are hard to treat,” continued Dr. Presti.
Spotting HIV earlier can slow the spread of the virus, allow patients to get on medications sooner, and improve the odds of long-term survival. It’s a simple test that could save lives.
Studies show that people who are aware that they have HIV are less likely to engage in high-risk behaviors. Experts say the unaware HIV population is responsible for about 50 percent to 70 percent of new infections.