June 27th marks National HIV Testing Day, an annual campaign coordinated by the National Association of People with AIDS. The campaign, founded in 1995, is intended to encourage people to “Take the Test, Take Control.” The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 1,178,350 Americans are living with HIV; of those, approximately 240,000 are unaware of their HIV-positive status.
According to the CDC, at least 1 in 3 people in the United States who test positive for HIV are tested too late to get the full advantage of treatment. Early HIV testing reduces the spread of disease, extends life expectancy, and reduces costs of care. Every new HIV infection prevented saves approximately $367,000 in lifetime medical costs. Early testing and diagnosis is key to prevention. According to the CDC, approximately 55% of American adults, aged 18–64, have never been tested for HIV. Even among persons at higher risk for HIV infection, 28% have never been tested. HIV testing and linkage to care are vital parts of a comprehensive strategy to identify all persons with HIV infections and to begin early intervention.
The CDC continues to work with federal, state, and local partners to expand routine HIV testing—not just on NHTD, but all year long. In 2010 the National HIV/AIDS Strategy established a goal of increasing, by 2015, the percentage of persons living with HIV who are aware of their infection from 79% to 90% .