A new study from the CDC points to a major decline in HIV testing among young adult.
The National Health Statistics Reports analyzed data from 2011 to 2013 and then from 2013 to 2015, looking at HIV testing of Americans among 9,321 men and 11,300 women ages 15 to 44.
In all, 38.8% of women and 53.8% of men reported never having been tested outside of donating blood. When focused on participants ages 15 to 24, though, that rate increased dramatically: Approximately 64% of women and 74% of men say they’ve never been tested for HIV.
The most common reason cited by both men and women was the belief they were “unlikely to have been exposed” to the virus, followed by never having been offered a test.
While only 28.9% of men who had a male sex partner in the lat year say they’ve never been tested for HIV, young people ages 13 to 24 reflect the highest rate of new infections in the U.S.—one in five in 2015, with 80% of them among men who have sex with men.
“HIV testing has too long been seen as an episodic event—’I get tested if I forgot to use a condom’—for example,” Rob Stephenson, a professor and director of the Center for Sexuality and Health Disparities at the University of Michigan told CNN. “We don’t want the pendulum to swing back to the 1980s where we scared everybody from HIV testing. Yet we also don’t want the other extreme where it’s seen as not a health threat. It needs to land somewhere in the middle, where it’s seen as something you just do as part of your routine health check, and if you have certain risks then you should do it more often.”