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HIV Symptoms

HIV Symptoms - A record number of adults were tested for HIV for the first time in 2009. Almost 83 million Americans, ages 18 to 64, reported being screened for HIV last year, an increase of more than 11 million people from 2006. The data are part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's December Vital Signs report.

Yet despite these numbers, 55 percent of all adults have never been tested for HIV. Worse, 28 percent of the population at high risk for HIV have never been tested for it. The CDC says one of every five adults living with HIV does not know that he or she is infected with the disease and could be infecting others.

"If you don't know your HIV status, you can't effectively protect yourself and your partners," says Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The timing of when a person tests positive for HIV has a significant impact on how successful the subsequent treatment will be. It takes roughly 10 years for HIV to progress to AIDS. Early treatment of HIV, before symptoms fully develop, can effectively prolong an individual's life an average of 39 years. Yet at least one in three Americans test positive for the disease when it's too late to take full advantage of treatment; they get AIDS within a year from their original HIV diagnosis.

"HIV testing is the fundamental link between HIV care and prevention," says Dr. Jonathan Mermin, director of the HIV/AIDS Prevention Program at the CDC. "People cannot take treatment that prolongs their life a decade without knowing they're infected."

"37,000 people were diagnosed with AIDS in 2008... virtually every one of which could have been prevented," says Frieden.

HIV Symptoms


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