Late Versus Early Testing of HIV--16 Sites, United States, 2000-2003, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 52 MMWR 581 (2003)

Research and Journal Articles

This study compared individuals who tested positive for HIV early in the course of the disease with those who tested later in the course of the disease, and found that later testers were significantly more likely to be younger, to be black or Hispanic, to have been exposed to HIV through heterosexual contact, to have high school or less education, or to have tested negative for HIV previously. Early testing is important because it provides increased opportunities for treatment and prevention, with those who test late in the course of the infection being less able to benefit fully from antiretroviral therapy and prophylaxis to prevent opportunistic infections. The findings underscore the lack of access to quality care and support that marginalized groups, including racial minorities and youth, face. Moreover, its findings that late testers were more likely to have received a previous negative test and that "persons who tested negative might have assumed they were safe and therefore did not retest for a long time" underscores the need for effective counseling on HIV testing and prevention for those who test negative.