More, but not enough, Americans get AIDS tests-US

* 11 million people tested since new 2006 guidelines

* 200,000 still infected and do not know

By Maggie Fox, Health and Science Editor

WASHINGTON, Nov 30 (BestGrowthStock) – Guidelines making AIDS tests
part of routine care have helped get more Americans tested, but
more than half of adults still have no idea if they are
infected, government researchers reported on Tuesday.

Nearly 83 million Americans have been tested for the AIDS
virus, 11.4 million of them since the guidelines were issued in
2006, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
said.

But 200,000 Americans are infected with the virus and do
not know it, CDC director Dr. Thomas Frieden said.

“The numbers show that progress is possible,” Frieden told
a news conference.

“They also show that progress is needed,” he added. “To
see a steady improvement in just a two or three year period, I
think, is quite encouraging. It’s progress but it’s not
success.”

The CDC estimates that 1.1 million Americans are infected
with the human immunodeficiency virus that causes AIDS, with
56,000 new infections each year.

The CDC’s Dr. Jonathan Mermin said people who do not know
they are infected are far more likely to infect someone else
with the incurable virus.

“People who know they are positive cut their risky
behaviors in half,” Frieden said.

While there is no cure, a cocktail of HIV drugs can keep
people healthy and studies also show that HIV patients who take
the drugs are less likely to transmit the virus, which is
spread in blood, semen and breast milk as well as on needles.

So in 2006, the CDC said that instead of making people ask
for HIV tests, in effect admitting they may have engaged in
risky behavior, people should be automatically tested unless
they opt out. “It should be a normal, routine part of care,”
Frieden said.

“Today’s data shows that following those recommendations,
there was a significant increase in the number of Americans who
were tested for the first time,” he added.

Last year 82.9 million adults between 18 and 64 said they
had been tested for HIV — 11.4 million more than in 2006. In
2006, 40 percent of U.S. adults had been tested and in 2009, 45
percent had.

“Despite this progress, 55 percent of adults, and 28.3
percent of adults with a risk factor for HIV, have not been
tested,” the CDC noted.

And 32 percent of people diagnosed with HIV in 2007
progressed to AIDS within 12 months. “In other words, they had
unknowingly been infected with HIV for years without being
diagnosed,” Mermin said.

On average, it takes 10 years for a person infected with
HIV to develop AIDS if he or she is not treated.

Globally, more than 33 million people are infected with
HIV, 22.5 million of them in sub-Saharan Africa, according to
the United Nations.

(Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

More, but not enough, Americans get AIDS tests-US