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Expanding HIV testing programs to more people, particularly those who are at high risk , could significantly lower the prevalence of the disease, said officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The agency began a trial program in 2007 that ramped up efforts to get people tested for the sexually transmitted disease. Before the initiative ended in 2010, officials had provided HIV testing to 2.8 million individuals and diagnosed 18,432 new cases of the disease. Due to this success, the agency decided to extend the program.
Frequent HIV testing is so important because it allows an infected individual to seek treatment at an earlier stage in the disease's progression. Studies have shown that the earlier the infection is treated, the better the outcome. Antiretroviral therapy may prevent the spread of HIV to others and prevent the breakdown of an individual's immune system.
CDC officials said that they are currently working on ways to reach out to high-risk populations, including men who have sex with men and African Americans. These two groups have much higher rates of HIV and controlling the spread of the disease in these demographics could have a major public health effect.
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