New CDC data released today indicate far too many people are diagnosed with HIV late in the course of infection, when neither treatment nor prevention can have optimal benefit. 

An analysis of persons first diagnosed with HIV from 1996 to 2005 in 34 states with name-based HIV reporting shows that 38.3% of these individuals were diagnosed with AIDS within one year of receiving an initial HIV diagnosis, and an additional 6.7% were diagnosed with AIDS in the next two years. 

Compared to whites, racial/ethnic minorities were more likely to be diagnosed late; higher percentages of people of all other racial/ethnic groups progressed to AIDS within three years.  Those receiving an initial HIV diagnosis at an older age were more likely to progress to AIDS within three years, as were men. 

Because progression from HIV to AIDS generally takes about 10 years without treatment, these findings underscore the importance of HIV testing early in the course of infection, when antiretroviral treatments can have maximum benefit.  Additionally, because studies show that most people who know they are infected take steps to protect their partners, HIV testing is an essential step in reducing the number of new infections.
The study, Late HIV Testing — 34 States, 1996–2005, is published in the June 26 issue of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
Source: National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD and TB Prevention