Government and Regulations

Massive Gap in HIV Screening

CDC report finds that despite an increased rate of doctor’s visits, young men still are not testing for HIV.


 

Between 2009 and 2012, white men aged 15 to 39 years made an average of 1.6 visits to doctor’s offices each year. But in 99% of those visits, the men did not get an HIV test—even though in 2012, about 15% of men living with HIV had undiagnosed HIV infection. Those percentages were worse than the findings for blacks and Hispanics, although those were not much better: Only 2.7% of black men and 1.4% of Hispanic men were tested, and they were less likely to visit the doctor’s office.

To identify opportunities for HIV diagnosis in young men, CDC researchers analyzed data from the 2009-2012 National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey (NAMCS) and U.S. census data.

Although the number of men visiting health care offices was up from 59% in 2010 and 63% in 2011, to 75% in 2014, it seems that the group aged 20 to 29 years is getting the most attention. HIV testing was lowest among men aged 15 to 19 and 35 to 39 years.

Why is screening still so rare? The researchers suggest that providers may not know about national testing recommendations, believe that their patients are not at risk, or believe that HIV testing is the responsibility of other health care professionals in other settings.

The CDC report says interventions to make HIV testing routine, such as opt-out testing, might help increase coverage among young men who might not otherwise seek it.

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