About half of all U.S. adults under age 65 have been tested for HIV antibodies, up from about 38% in 1994, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Thursday. The estimate is based on data collected through the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, a nationwide research cohort designed to be representative of the overall U.S. adult population, Reuters Health reports. More than 170,000 people nationwide were surveyed and asked if they had been tested for HIV antibodies and why they had decided to be screened. More than half of the adults in Alaska, California, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, Nevada, South Carolina, Virginia, Washington, D.C., and the U.S. Virgin Islands responded that they had been tested. Testing levels were the lowest in Iowa, Kentucky, Minnesota, Nebraska, North and South Dakota, Utah, and West Virginia, where overall testing rates were below 40%. Women were also more likely to have been tested than men.
CDC officials say the figures show that there is a need to further expand HIV antibody testing to increase the numbers of Americans who have been screened for the AIDS virus. The agency announced last month that it plans to boost funding for HIV testing programs across the country and urges testing centers to begin using the OraQuick HIV antibody test, which can provide results in about 20 minutes. More than $90 million in federal HIV prevention funds will be shifted in 2004 from traditional HIV prevention outreach to programs that stress testing and prevention messages urging HIV-positive people to not expose others to the virus.