1 In 5 People With HIV Don't Know Their Status - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

1 In 5 People With HIV Don't Know Their Status

HUFFINGTONPOST.COM - When Dr. Lisa Fitzpatrick sees patients for an HIV test, they are often afraid of coming in, she says.

"I have quite a few people who come in and tell me that they waited to get tested because they didn't want to find out they had AIDS," said Fitzpatrick, a professor of medicine at Howard University and director HIV services at D.C. based hospital United Medical Center.

"The first thing I say is 'You're not going to die of AIDS. You're here, you are seeking treatment. If you catch HIV early enough, you don't have to develop AIDS,' " added Fitzpatrick, who also runs an HIV training program for healthcare providers in Washington, D.C.

Indeed, since the first federal announcement regarding Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome 30 years ago, antiretroviral therapy has made it possible to delay progression from HIV infection to AIDS, significantly prolonging patients' lives.

"We have halted and begun to reverse the epidemic," a recent UNAIDS global report stated. "Fewer people are becoming infected with HIV and fewer people are dying from AIDS."

But one area where progress has somewhat stalled is in testing.

According to early Centers for Disease Control estimates released today, 39.5 percent of American adults age 18 and older have received an HIV test at some point in their lives. That is up from a decade ago -- only 32.1 percent had in 2000 -- but it still falls dramatically short of the CDC's recommendation that everyone between the age of 13 and 64 undergo routine screening for HIV.

"I've been thinking, at the 30th [anniversary], about where we were and where we've come from, and it's striking in terms of great advancements," said Dr. Patrick Sullivan, an associate professor of epidemiology at the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University. "But one of the problems we still have is a very basic one: We've had a test for HIV since 1985, and yet we still haven't taken full advantage of that tool." >>>CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL STORY

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