HIV testing is paramount in ensuring that infected people are diagnosed early and receive treatment which helps prevent new infections. Here are some important facts about HIV testing:
- 20% of individuals living with HIV don’t know they are infected
- 49% of new HIV transmission are infected by people who don’t know they have the disease
- Early diagnosis and treatment can decrease transmissibility by greater than 95%
- HIV positive patients treated early will live an average of 11 years longer
- New technology, created by Medwiser called HATS, can help people know if they should get a test.
HIV testing reduces new cases of HIV and AIDS
We need to do everything we can to detect HIV so that we can treat it early. Doing so has been shown to reduce infection rates by greater than 95%. That is one of our primary goals at Medwiser. Part of the reason AIDS has been able to spread so rampantly is its stealth nature. Therefore, we are focused on using technology to get people tested when they need to be. When HIV infection is detected and treated early with powerful AIDS medications, viral levels can be maintained at low or undetectable levels. This form of treatment also acts as a form of prevention. This “treatment as prevention” makes it almost impossible for the AIDS virus to spread. As a strategy for eliminating infection, testing must be brought to scale. Using technology to boost testing is the first step needed to catch latent HIV and stop those unknowingly infected from transmitting the disease.
HIV hides under the radar
HIV/AIDS is historically one of the worst pandemics because the virus is so sneaky. The AIDS virus eludes detection substantially harming individuals and facilitating new infections. When a patient is exposed to HIV, he or she may have cold symptoms or no symptoms at all. Then the virus goes into latency or hiding. On average this latency period may last for 10 years until symptoms appear again. In the meantime, an unknowingly infected person may infect countless others. The consequences of late identification are then multiplied. The unknowingly HIV positive person will sustain great damage from the virus being left untreated. Additionally, not knowing about infection, the individual will not take steps to protect others.
20 percent unknowingly postive account for 50 percent of new HIV infections
HIV/AIDS relies on the roughly the 20% of unknowingly infected individuals to transmit nearly half of all new HIV infections in the United States. Identifying these individuals sooner can improve their health, outcomes, and lives while preventing new cases of HIV/AIDS. We have made some progress with late testers, who are not diagnosed until a more advanced stage of disease. In 2005, late testers accounted for 58% of all new infections. This number decreased to 44% in 2009.
HIV infected individuals often do not report risk factors
Not only do we need to test more people who report risk factors. We need to screen those who don’t. Up to 25% of people who are HIV positive report no risk factors. Other patients may feel uncomfortable discussing embarrassing details about their private lives.
Diagnosing HIV takes minutes with rapid technology
To help expedite the results of HIV tests and scale up HIV testing, AIDS antibody tests can provide results in under 20 minutes. These tests detect antibodies in the blood or in saliva. Oral HIV tests work by swabbing the inside of the cheek and identifying antibodies in saliva. Generally rapid technology makes use of the sciences of immunconcentration, immunochromatography, or particle agglutination. These tests have sensitivities greater than 98% and show a visual reaction. Some of these tests are now FDA approved to be taken at home.
Role of testing in stopping HIV/AIDS in the United States
This article explains why HIV testing is important in the fight against the virus.
HIV Testing in the United States
HIV/AIDS testing statistics: Who’s getting tested? What is the CDC doing to increase it?
Barriers to scaling up testing
Several factors get in the way of patients getting tested. Find out more.
Solutions to increasing testing
What can be done to increase needed testing in the United States?
Medwiser’s HATS technology can help overcome many barriers to testing.
HIV testing is central to solving the AIDS crisis in America. We have the means to prevent HIV transmission. Treatment as prevention, combined with other forms of biological prevention can isolate the disease. In a perfect situation, this could reverse the trend until HIV infection becomes rare. However, the difficulty HATS faces is that it and other innovative testing tools depend on identification of a key group of individuals who are unaware of their infection.