More HIV testing needed to slow spread of infection

2/17/2012 5:08:46 PM (EST)

Ever since the HIV epidemic came to the U.S. in 1981, it has left millions of people infected with the disease. Some communities have been hit particularly hard. In order to prevent the infection from continuing to spread, experts say more people should consider HIV testing.

There are currently more than 1 million people in the U.S. who are infected with HIV, according to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. What's more, as much as 21 percent of these individuals are unaware of their infection.

The disease is most common among minorities and men who have sex with men. African Americans receive the most positive HIV tests each year, despite the fact that this group only makes up about 12 percent of the total U.S. population. There were more than 42,000 new cases diagnosed in African Americans in 2008.

Numbers such as these underscore the importance of HIV testing. The infection will continue to be passed from one individual to the next as long as there are so many undiagnosed cases. Testing and treating those who are infected may be one of the simplest ways to slow the spread of HIV. 

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