ATLANTA, Ga. — A new Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) Vital Signs report finds that HIV is being diagnosed sooner after infection than was previously reported.

According to the report, the estimated median time from HIV infection to diagnosis was three years in 2015. CDC previously estimated that, in 2011, the median time from HIV infection to diagnosis was three years and seven months. Additionally, this latest study shows the time from HIV infection to diagnosis varied by risk group and by race/ethnicity, with straight males and people of color living longer with undiagnosed HIV than others. And, growing percentages of gay and bisexual men, people who inject drugs, and straights at increased risk for HIV report getting a recent HIV test.

“These findings are more encouraging signs that the tide continues to turn on our nation’s HIV epidemic,” said CDC Director Brenda Fitzgerald, M.D.

The CDC said that getting an HIV test is the first step to learning how to reduce future risk for people who do not have HIV and to starting treatment and getting the virus under control for people living with HIV. Taking HIV medicine as prescribed allows people with the virus to live a long, healthy life and protect their partners from acquiring HIV, the CDC added.

The Vital Signs analysis suggested that, without increased testing, many people living with HIV may not know they have HIV for many years. A quarter of people diagnosed with HIV in 2015 lived with HIV for seven or more years without knowing it.

“Ideally, HIV is diagnosed within months of infection, rather than years later,” said Eugene McCray, M.D., director of CDC’s Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention. “Further increasing regular HIV testing and closing testing, diagnoses and treatment gaps is essential to stopping HIV in our communities.”

Lainey Millen

Lainey Millen was formerly QNotes' associate editor, special assignments writer, N.C. and U.S./World News Notes columnist and production director from 2001-2019 when she retired.