HIV is being diagnosed sooner after initial infection than in previous years, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published in Vital Signs.

In 2015, the estimated median time from infection to diagnosis was 3 years; in 2011, the median time to diagnosis was 3 years and 7 months.

“These findings are more encouraging signs that the tide continues to turn on our nation’s HIV epidemic,” stated CDC Director Brenda Fitzgerald, MD. “HIV is being diagnosed more quickly, the number of people who have the virus under control is up, and annual infections are down. So while we celebrate our progress, we pledge to work together to end this epidemic forever.”

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The analysis found that the percentage of people at increased risk for HIV who reported getting an HIV test the previous year has increased. However, a multi-city study found that 29% of gay and bisexual men, 42% of people who inject drugs, and 59% of heterosexuals at increased risk for HIV reported that they did not get an HIV test in the last year. The same study also found that 7 in 10 people at high risk who were not tested for HIV in the past year saw a healthcare provider during that time, which indicates a missed opportunity to have high-risk individuals tested as frequently as needed.

In 2015, the estimated timing from HIV infection to diagnosis varied by risk group and by race/ethnicity.

  • Estimated timing from HIV infection to diagnosis ranged from a median of 5 years for heterosexual males to 2.5 years for heterosexual females and females who inject drugs. The median was 3 years for gay and bisexual males.
  • Estimated timing from HIV infection to diagnosis ranged from a median of 4 years for Asian Americans to 2 years for white Americans and about 3 years for African Americans and Latinos.

“Ideally, HIV is diagnosed within months of infection, rather than years later,” said Eugene McCray, MD, director of the CDC’s Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention. “Further increasing regular HIV testing and closing testing, diagnoses, and treatment gaps is essential to stopping HIV in our communities.”

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CDC funding supports more than 3 million tests across the country each year that identify more than 12,000 people with HIV who were not previously diagnosed, accounting for one-third of all HIV diagnoses per year in the United States.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Frequency of HIV testing and time from infection to diagnosis improve [news release]. November 28, 2017. Available at: