HIV: Virus Fears Keep Many From Getting Tested

First Posted: Nov 17, 2015 12:13 PM EST

For some who may have HIV, they feel that knowing may not be worth it, according to a recent study.

Researchers at Royal Holloway, University of London, carried out the largest global review of psychological barriers behind HIV testing and the factors that might influence people's decisions on being tested. They found that fear of knowing prevents a significant number of patients from seeking treatment. In fact, one quarter of 100,000 HIV positive people in the UK did not even know they were infected, researchers say.

"Our research shows it is imperative that more is done to reduce the fear of HIV and HIV testing to increase the amount of people being tested," Dr Michael Evangeli, from the Department of Psychology at Royal Holloway, said in a news release. "A test for HIV, which can now be done in private at home, is necessary to receive HIV treatment and care. The earlier this can be done helps to reduce the onward transmission of HIV. The fact that HIV is treatable needs to be stressed."

Statistics show that more than half of the 35 million infected with HIV have not yet been diagnosed--preventing them from access to the necessary care and treatment for living with the illness and increasing risk of spreading the virus.

HIV infection comes in three stages. The first is referred to as acute infection or seroconversion and typically happens within two to six weeks following infection, with symptoms that may include headache, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, sore throat, aching muscles, rash and/or fever. The period without symptoms is the second stage or the latent period while AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome) is the third and most-advanced stage of HIV where the CD4 T-cell number drops below 200.

The study is published in the journal AIDS and Behavior.

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