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Dear Colleague: June 26, 2018

Dear Colleague, information from CDC's Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention

June 26, 2018

Dear Colleague,

Tomorrow is National HIV Testing Day, a day to encourage all adults and adolescents to know their HIV status. This year’s theme, Doing It My Way, Testing for HIV, calls on everyone to find their own way of making HIV testing a part of a healthy lifestyle. Please join us tomorrow to promote the importance of HIV testing.

Making HIV testing easy, accessible, and routine is one of the keys to preventing new infections. For people who are HIV-negative, testing can serve as the bridge to prevention services, such as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). For people with HIV, getting a diagnosis early, starting treatment promptly, and continuing to take treatment are essential to improving their health outcomes and preventing transmission to others. Yet 1 in 7 people with HIV do not know they are infected, and many people have HIV for years before their infection is diagnosed. Nearly 40,000 people received an HIV diagnosis in 2015, and half of them had the virus 3 years or more before diagnosis.

CDC recommends that everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 get tested at least once as part of routine health care. Some people are more at risk for HIV than others and should be tested at least annually. Sexually active gay and bisexual men may benefit from more frequent testing (e.g., every 3 to 6 months). However, a study published last week indicates that many people at higher risk for HIV are not tested annually. Among people at higher risk, the median estimated time since last HIV test is 512 days, and nearly 40% of those at higher risk have never been tested for HIV. HIV testing of people with ongoing HIV risk and widespread implementation of routine HIV testing for all adults and adolescents are needed to diagnose HIV infection sooner, improve the health of those with HIV, and prevent new infections.

CDC’s HIV testing guidelines for clinical and nonclinical settings provide comprehensive information about who needs HIV testing and how often they need it. Other CDC initiatives to improve testing outcomes include:

  • Providing funds to state and local health departments to develop and implement comprehensive HIV prevention programs that include HIV testing and linkage to care for those who receive an HIV diagnosis.
  • Funding community-based organizations to provide HIV testing and linkage to care for those at greatest risk.
  • Conducting research and evaluation regarding the most up-to-date laboratory diagnostic techniques for HIV and issuing recommendations for testing.
  • Ensuring access to testing resources, such as CDC’s Get Tested website, and training opportunities for providers through CDC’s HIV Screening. Standard Care.
  • Providing free materials to help promote National HIV Testing Day.
  • Implementing the Doing It campaign, designed to motivate all adults to get tested for HIV and know their status. A Doing It My Way microcampaign for National HIV Testing Day invites people to share their stories of how they are testing for HIV.

Tomorrow, HIV testing events across the country will give many people an opportunity to test “their way,” and we hope you are planning to participate. Together, we can build on the momentum of this day to increase HIV testing and early diagnosis, ensure that people with HIV get the care they need, and link people to prevention services if they are at risk for HIV. Thank you for joining us in this important work.

Sincerely,

/Eugene McCray/

Eugene McCray, MD
Director
Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention
National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
www.cdc.gov/hiv

/Jonathan Mermin/

Jonathan H. Mermin, MD, MPH
Rear Admiral and Assistant Surgeon General, USPHS
Director
National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
www.cdc.gov/nchhstp

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