Incredible advances in the treatment and prognosis of HIV infections mean that a diagnosis is no longer quite as terrible as it once was – and getting tested for it is far less fraught with dread than it was a decade or two ago.
But roughly 1 in 6 San Francisco residents who are HIV-positive doesn’t know it, and nationwide, the number is even higher – 1 in 5 Americans with HIV, or about 200,000 people, is unaware of the infection.
That’s bad news for those individuals who could be taking life-saving drugs to stall their infections. It’s bad news for their communities, too, because people with untreated HIV in their blood are much more likely to spread the virus than those who have the infection under control.
So testing has become a major focus of local and national plans to curb the HIV epidemic. In the past month, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention began a new program to offer HIV testing in pharmacies, and shortly after, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the first at-home HIV testing kit, which will be widely available in Bay Area pharmacies soon.