Average Interval Between HIV Tests is 1.4 Years in High-Risk Patients


A collection of survey data from 2006 through 2016 found that on average, higher-risk individuals get tested for HIV every 1.4 years.

Although a recent report indicated that health care providers may not be offering HIV tests to all higher-risk individuals, further research has found those patients that are getting tested for HIV are not testing annually, as recommended by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

According to a report by Marc A. Pitasi, MPH, a CDC epidemiologist, and colleagues, and published in an issue of the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, there is a median estimated interval of about 512 days (1.4 years) between HIV tests in higher-risk groups.

The investigators analyzed results from the General Social Survey, a biennial survey of adults aged 18 and older which includes questions about HIV-related risk behaviors and HIV testing. The results indicated that only 39.6% of noninstitutionalized US adults surveyed had been tested for HIV. Furthermore, only 62.2% of higher-risk participants had been tested for HIV.

The CDC identifies individuals at a higher risk for HIV as those who inject drugs and their sex partners, individuals who exchange sex for money or drugs, sexually active gay or bisexual men and men who have sex with men, sex partners of individuals who have been infected with HIV, and heterosexual individuals who themselves or their sex partners have had multiple sex partners since their most recent HIV test.

A total of 11,688 individuals responded to the survey. Participants were sorted into 4 categories: men who had sex with men in the past 12 months, men with high-risk behaviors, women with high-risk behaviors, men and women without high-risk behaviors.

The results showed that 39.6% of participants indicated they had been tested for HIV. The median estimated interval since the last test for this population was 1080 days or almost 3 years. The groups with the highest percentage of testing were men who had a male sex partner (71%) and women with a higher risk for HIV (65.9%).

The survey data was also categorized by sex, age group, race/ethnicity, education, annual household income, and US region.

In the sex category, women overall had an average of 1047 days since their last HIV test. Women also indicated a shorter interval since the last test when at a higher risk, in comparison to the men.

Participants aged 18 to 24 indicated the shortest average number of days since their last test, 322 days. Black, non-Hispanics had the shortest interval since their last test in the race/ethnicity category at 534 days. Those with an annual household income less than $35,000 indicated an average of 767 days between tests.

According to the authors of the study, during the survey period, the median estimated interval since an individual's last test remained consistently longer than 1 year for all 3 of the higher-risk groups.

“Efforts to identify persons at higher risk and ensure that they receive annual HIV screening can reduce morbidity, mortality, and transmission to others,” shared the authors in a statement, “Integration of routine screening as standard clinical practice through existing strategies, such as electronic medical record prompts, or new, innovative strategies might be needed to increase repeat screening of persons with ongoing risk.”

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