Infectious Disease

New data suggest pandemic disruptions led to drop in HIV testing

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The authors report no relevant financial disclosures. Mermin reports no relevant financial disclosures.

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New data showed a sharp decrease in CDC-funded HIV tests administered in health care and non-health care settings from 2019 to 2020 — primarily among groups disproportionately affected by HIV.

“HIV testing is the first step in accessing HIV prevention and care services,” Elizabeth A DiNennoPh.D, senior advisor in CDC’s Division of HIV Prevention, and colleagues wrote. “The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted health care delivery and might have affected HIV testing, which is critical to ending the HIV epidemic in the United States.”

DiNenno EA, et al.  MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2022;doi:10.15585/mmwr.mm7125a2.

DiNenno EA, et al. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2022;doi:10.15585/mmwr.mm7125a2.

For their study, DiNenno and colleagues analyzed data from four national data collection systems to assess the numbers of HIV tests performed and HIV infections diagnosed in the US in the year before (2019) and during the COVID-19 pandemic (2020).

Overall, they found that the number of HIV diagnoses reported to the CDC decreased by 17% in 2020 compared with 2019, whereas the number of CDC-funded HIV tests administered in health care and non-health care settings declined 43% and 50%, respectively.

Additionally, the study revealed significant decreases in testing in non-health care settings among populations disproportionately affected by HIV, including gay and bisexual men (49%), transgender people (47%), Hispanic and Latino people (46%) and Black people (44%).

“We welcomed 2020 with optimism. New HIV infections were declining, and attention to HIV was increasing,” Jonathan MerminMD, MPH, director of CDC’s National Center for HIV, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention, said in a statement. “But just as COVID-19 disrupted our lives, it changed the course of HIV prevention. Now we are at a crossroads. Will we accept the massive reductions in HIV testing, or will we bounce back stronger?”

The data were published ahead of National HIV Testing Day on June 27. To mark the observance, we compiled a list of recent stories on HIV testing.

More data show decline in HIV, STI testing during COVID-19 pandemic

There was a “profound” reduction in testing rates for chlamydia, gonorrhea, HIV and syphilis in Southern California during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as reductions in the rates of diagnosis for chlamydia, gonorrhea and HIV, whereas syphilis diagnoses actually increased, researchers reported at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections. read more

CDC: 100K HIV self-tests requested in 8 months

More than 56,000 people living in areas of the US with a high burden of HIV ordered at least one HIV test from a CDC mailing program during 8 months of 2021 as part of a program created to support the federal Ending the HIV Epidemic initiative launched in 2019 by accelerating the identification of undiagnosed HIV infections. read more

HIV self-testing program widely accepted by people who use drugs

HIV self-testing kits were easy to use and widely accepted by people who inject drugs, who reported a desire to know their HIV status and to continuously be able to test, according to preliminary findings from a study presented at IDWeek 2021. Read more.

HIV self-testing plus biofeedback counseling increases PrEP adherence among women

An intervention for PrEP users and their partners that combined oral HIV self-testing with adherence biofeedback counseling almost doubled the recent adherence to PrEP among postpartum women in South Africa compared with standard of care. read more

AAP recommends universal HIV screening starting at age 15 years

The American Academy of Pediatrics updated its guidance to recommend that all adolescents aged 15 years or older be screened for HIV at least once in a health care setting and that youth at an increased risk be screened at least once annually after that. read more

References:

HIV testing dropped sharply among key groups during first year of COVID-19 pandemic. https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2022/p0623-HIV-testing.html. Published June 23, 2022. Accessed June 27, 2022.

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