The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a retrovirus that infects cells of the human immune system, destroying or impairing their function. HIV infection causes acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS).
HIV is a truly global epidemic. It is the world’s leading infectious killer,1 and even after three decades of dramatically increased awareness, prevention, and treatment options, the statistics remain startling:
- More than 1.2 million people in the United States are living with HIV2
- 1 in 8 of those infected with HIV don’t know they have it2
These facts highlight the critical importance of global testing for HIV.
According to the World Health Organization, primary risk factors for HIV include unprotected vaginal or anal sex; sharing contaminated needles, syringes, and other injecting equipment; unsafe blood transfusions and medical procedures; accidental needle-stick injuries; and other sexually transmitted infections, such as syphilis, herpes, chlamydia, gonorrhea, and bacterial vaginosis.3
Prevention, Testing, and Therapy
Limiting exposure to and curbing behavior associated with these risk factors can reduce the probability of HIV infection.
In addition, early identification of HIV-positive individuals, viral load monitoring, and testing for the drug-resistance of particular strains of HIV may improve patient outcomes and reduce disease transmission. Clinical laboratory tests remain crucially important at every stage of the HIV-care continuum, as they provide clinicians with tools that allow them to manage patients more effectively.
There has been significant progress, including a 77% global increase from 2010 through 2013 in the number of people living with HIV who are receiving antiretroviral therapy.1
One simple blood test could save lives.