HIV Report Says 200,000 Americans Unaware They're Infected: Why?

HIV Report Says 200,000 Americans Unaware They're Infected: Why?
Kim Kardashian dies a "digital death" as part of an HIV fundraising campaign. (Keepachildalive.org)


(CBS) More than 25 years into the epidemic, Americans are reasonably well informed about HIV/AIDS. But a new report reveals that a shocking number of Americans remain in the dark about one very important question:

Am I infected?

Up to 20 percent of the 1.1 million adults living with HIV in the U.S. don't know they are infected with the deadly virus, according to the report, which was released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention today on the eve of World AIDS Day.

That's not to say people aren't getting tested. In fact, 82.9 million Americans between 18 and 64 years of age got tested last year - a record high. That number represents a five percent increase in people getting screened each year since 2006, when the CDC recommended that HIV testing become a routine part of doctor visits for adults and adolescents, especially for those at a high risk of infection.

Risk factors include having unprotected sex or another sexually transmitted disease, or using intravenous drugs.

But despite improvement in HIV awareness, 55 percent of adults, and 28.3 percent of people with risk factors, have not been tested.

"Today's news shows that we have had progress increasing testing, and that more progress is both necessary and possible," CDC director Dr. Thomas R. Frieden said in a written statement. "With most adults and with nearly a third of high-risk people having never been tested for HIV, we need to do more to ensure that all Americans have access to voluntary, routine and early HIV testing in order to save lives and reduce the spread of this terrible disease."

To these ends, the CDC has teamed up with health-care providers and local public health agencies to make testing more common in doctors' offices, and to set up outreach programs in communities.

Over the summer, the White House debuted the National HIV/AIDS Strategy, an effort that aims to increase the proportion of people who know they're HIV-positive to 90 percent. The CDC provided $60 million to boost HIV testing in areas of the country where infection rates are high.

And celebrities are pitching in, too. Several A-listers have agreed to  "kill" their social networking presence in an effort to raise money for Keep A Child Alive, a charity that raises money for HIV treatments in Africa and India.


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