U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration

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HIV Testing

People aware of and receiving appropriate care for positive HIV serostatus may be able to live longer and healthier lives because of newly available, effective treatments. It is recommended that people who meet any of the following criteria be tested at least annually for HIV: those who have injected drugs or steroids, or shared drug use equipment (such as needles); have had unprotected sex with men who have sex with men, anonymous partners, or multiple partners; have exchanged sex for drugs or money; have been diagnosed with hepatitis, tuberculosis, or a sexually transmitted infection; received a blood transfusion between 1978 and 1985; or have had unprotected sex with anyone who meets any of these criteria.1 In addition, the CDC recommends that all health care providers include HIV testing as part of their patients’ routine health care and that all pregnant women be tested during their pregnancy.

In 2008, more than 39 percent of adults in the United States had ever been tested for HIV (data not shown). Overall, women were slightly more likely than men to have been tested (40.9 versus 37.6 percent, respectively). Within younger age groups (18–44 years), women were more likely to have been tested than men, while men were more likely to have been tested at older ages (45 years and older).

Among women in 2008, non-Hispanic women of multiple races were most likely to have ever been tested (63.7 percent), followed by non-Hispanic Black women (57.0 percent) and Hispanic women (50.6 percent). Non-Hispanic White and Asian women were much less likely to have reported ever being tested (36.0 and 36.2 percent, respectively).

Among women who had not been tested, 79.3 percent reported that they had not been tested because they thought it was unlikely they had been exposed and 18.8 percent reported that there was no particular reason they had not done so (data not shown).

1 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National HIV Testing Resources. Frequently asked questions about HIV and STD testing. [online] http://www.hivtest.org/, accessed 11/30/09.

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