Test rates for HIV fall short, says CDC study

Associated Press

ATLANTA — Nearly 30 percent of people deemed at risk for HIV have never been tested, the government said Thursday in warning they could be unknowingly spreading the virus that causes AIDS.

The study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention involved more than 30,000 people in the United States. Some 73 percent of those considered at risk for HIV said they had been tested, but only 30 percent said they had been tested in the previous year.

The results underscore a problem that has concerned health officials for years: A substantial segment of people with the virus don’t realize they have it and are probably spreading it.

The study cited lack of access to testing centers and a perceived lack of confidentiality as reasons some people don’t get tested. The 1999 study was released in advance of World AIDS Day, which is Saturday.

Participants were asked whether they fit into any of the risk categories. They were then asked to rate what they believed was their risk factor for HIV — high, medium, low or none.

Among those who put themselves at high or medium risk, just 54 percent had ever been tested and only 25 percent had been tested in the previous year.

HIV testing rates appear to be higher for blacks than for whites. More than 70 percent of blacks at highest risk for HIV in the study said they had been tested, compared with 63 percent for Hispanics and just 50 percent for whites.

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