Engagement of African Americans with Rapid HIV Testing and HIV Care

Safiya George Dalmida*, Graham J. McDougall Jr., George C. T. Mugoya, Pamela Payne Foster, Makenzie Plyman and Joe Burrage

Engagement of African Americans with Rapid HIV Testing and HIV Care

Over three decades after the discovery of human immunodeficiency virus,
the continued spread of HIV infection in the United States remains a major concern.

There are over 1.2 million individuals in the United States living with acquired
immunodeficiency syndrome and approximately 50,000 people are newly diagnosed with HIV annually.

HIV testing is a key first step to entry into HIV care, yet individuals who suspect
exposure to HIV, delay testing up to one to four years.

Annually, of those who test positive for HIV in the US, 25%-33% fail to return
for initial test results— presenting a major barrier to HIV prevention, education, and
subsequent treatment.

Alarmingly, the average length of time from testing HIV positive to entry
into care ranges from one to five years.

African Americans account for nearly 50% of the newly estimated HIV/AIDS diagnoses,
with the majority being tested only after developing symptoms of AIDS.

Data suggests that African Americans may be testing at higher rates than
other ethnic communities.

For instance, results from the 2006-2010 National Survey of Family Growth of HIV testing,
found that while the proportions of those ever tested for HIV were similar
for Hispanic and non Hispanic White persons approximately 60% among women and
40% among men, a higher percentage of non-Hispanic Black women
and non-Hispanic Black men had ever been tested for HIV.

Unfortunately, African Americans are more likely to postpone medical care
after finding out that they are HIV positive.

Shortening this time lag between diagnosis and initial treatment is crucial
because antiretroviral medications are
most effective when initiated in HIV infected individuals
with a CD4 cell count >350.

HIV/AIDS Res Treat Open J. 2017; SE(1): S38-S51. doi: 10.17140/HARTOJSE-1-106