CDC reports drop in HIV testing during pandemic

HIV screenings and prescriptions for preexposure prophylaxis have declined during the pandemic, according to CDC research presented at the 2021 Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections.

The agency is slated to present nearly 30 abstracts at the virtual conference March 6-10.

In one study, researchers found a large commercial lab reported nearly 700,000 fewer HIV screening tests and nearly 5,000 fewer diagnoses between March 13 and Sept. 13, 2020, compared to the same period in 2019. 

A separate study analyzed data on PrEP prescriptions from January 2017 through September 2020. Researchers found a 21 percent drop in prescriptions from March 15 to Sept. 30, 2020, compared to modeling estimates of prescription volumes if the pandemic had not occurred. They also identified a 28 percent decrease in new PrEP users over the same period.

"Strategies that deliver HIV testing and care in innovative, community-tailored ways will be critical to reversing these declines, including the use or expansion of telemedicine and telehealth, rapid HIV self-tests, mail-in self-tests and the deployment of higher numbers of community health workers," the CDC said in a news release.

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