Health

People with HIV are finding out more quickly

A mobile testing program manager uses a photographer's finger to demonstrate how to obtain a blood sample to test for HIV inside a mobile HIV screening lab in Los Angeles.
A mobile testing program manager uses a photographer's finger to demonstrate how to obtain a blood sample to test for HIV inside a mobile HIV screening lab in Los Angeles.
David McNew/Getty Images

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Americans with HIV are getting diagnosed more quickly than in the past, according to a report released Tuesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Based on national data, the CDC estimates that in 2015 the average gap between infection and diagnosis was three years. That's seven months less than its estimate for 2011.

"These findings are more encouraging signs that the tide continues to turn on our nation’s HIV epidemic," said CDC Director Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald. "HIV is being diagnosed more quickly, the number of people who have the virus under control is up, and annual infections are down."

But Michael Weinstein, president of the Los Angeles-based Aids Healthcare Foundation, said this is a good news, bad news situation.

"During those three years, they could have infected other people without knowing it," he said.

About 40 percent of new HIV cases come from people who don't know they're infected, the CDC said.

"In California we’ve done a lot of things right but we haven’t done all that we could do to bring this down," said Weinstein.

Steps like more outreach and HIV screening during routine emergency room blood tests could help further reduce the time between HIV infection and diagnosis, he said.