The most common reason people reported for not being tested for HIV is “unlikely to have been exposed to HIV,” according to a National Health Statistics Report
In 2013, more than 1.2 million people in the United States were living with HIV, and at least 13% of those infected did not know they had the virus, according to the authors of the report. People who have HIV but are undiagnosed are estimated to account for one-third of HIV transmissions. The CDC recommends that adolescents and adults aged 13 to 64 be screened for the virus, and those who are at high-risk for the virus be screened frequently.
However, “Despite public health efforts to expand opportunities for HIV testing, in 2015, more than 50% of adults aged 18 to 64 in the United States had never been tested for HIV outside of the mandatory testing done for blood or blood product donation,” wrote the authors.
Using data from The National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG) from 2011 to 2013 and 2013 to 2015, the authors retrieved interviews of 9321 men and 11,300 women aged 15 to 44. During the interviews, participants were asked if they had ever donated blood or blood products and if they had ever been tested for HIV outside of donating blood or blood products. If they answered yes to being tested outside of donation, they were asked several follow-up questions about their most recent test. If they answered no, they were asked their main reason for never being tested.
A total of 4164 females and 4939 males were never tested. For adults aged 15 to 44, 38.8% of women had never been tested, and 53.8% of men had never been tested. Having never been tested was more common among participants aged 15 to 24 than participants aged 35 to 44. For both men and women, the percentage of those who had never been tested was higher among never married, non-cohabiting people compared to those in other marital status groups.
Both men and women who reported any HIV risk-related sexual or drug behaviors were less likely to have never been tested (26.4% and 33.7%, respectively) to those who did not report those behaviors (39.1% and 55.8%, respectively).
The most common reason given for never been tested for HIV was that they were “unlikely to have been exposed to HIV” (72% for women, and 71.1% for men). The second most common reason was that they were “never offered an HIV test” (21% for women, and 21.1% for men).
“NSFG data on HIV testing are an important component of HIV behavioral surveillance among the general US household population,” concluded the authors. “In combination with community-based surveys and surveys of high-risk populations, national representative, population-based surveys like NSFG can provide information to help evaluate and guide national HIV prevention strategies.”