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Getting tested early key to treating HIV in men

Posted at 7:32 AM, Apr 11, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-11 08:43:16-04

ORLANDO, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — More than 1.1 million people in the U.S. are living with HIV. Yet one in seven of them don’t know it. One problem: men aren’t getting diagnosed. Now there’s a new strategy to get these guys tested.

About 15% of people with HIV don’t know they have the virus! Doctors say this is a problem because an early diagnosis is the key to a better outcome.

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That’s because HIV “is a very treatable condition if it’s caught early and treated early,” says Rachel Presti, MD, Ph.D. with Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

A simple blood test is all it takes to detect HIV, but many men don’t get tested.

In a new study conducted in East Africa, researchers looked at whether giving pregnant women self-testing kits for their partners could boost testing rates.

They found providing the kits along with an incentive to attend an HIV clinic did do the trick. After 28 days, 17% of men in the control group were tested for HIV, but 87% to 95% of those in the intervention group got tested.

“A lot of people still get diagnosed late, so they may have opportunistic infections that are hard to treat,” Presti said.

Spotting HIV earlier can slow the spread of the virus, allow patients to get on medications sooner and improve the odds of long-term survival.

“A lot of people still get diagnosed late, so they may have opportunistic infections that are hard to treat.” — Dr. Rachel Presti

It’s a simple test that could save lives. Studies show that people who are aware that they have HIV are less likely to engage in high-risk behaviors.

Experts say the unaware HIV population is responsible for about 50% to 70% of new infections.