1 in 5 Don't Know They Have HIV

CDC says too many Americans aren't getting tested and treated for the deadly virus.

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Exec. Prod. of Franchises & Series. He previously reported for HuffPost, L.A. Daily Journal, and Biloxi Sun-Herald.

Nearly 75 percent of people with HIV in America don't have the infection under control, raising their own risk of dying from AIDS, as well as the chances they'll pass on the virus to others, according to new statistics released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ahead of World AIDS Day on Thursday. 

Potentially more troubling: one in five Americans who are HIV-positive don't even know they're infected. 

Getting more Americans to ask their doctors for an HIV test is essential to stopping the spread of the virus in the U.S., the CDC said Tuesday. Studies have proven that those who receive early antiretroviral treatment virtually eliminate the chance of passing on HIV to an uninfected partner.

Each year, about 50,000 people are newly infected with HIV. Of the 1.2 million HIV-positive Americans, about 240,000 don't know they're infected, according to the CDC. 

And despite research that shows antiretroviral treatment and regular medical care can help turn HIV infection from a death sentence into a manageable chronic condition, only 28 percent of HIV-positive Americans are getting the care they need, the CDC said. More than 16,000 people with AIDS die each year in the U.S. 

Seventy-seven percent of HIV-infected people who seek treatment are able to suppress the amount of HIV in their body to very low levels. 

Last week the United Nations announced that advances in medical care, changing behavior, and the expansion of antiretroviral treatment in the developing world mean that more people than ever are living with HIV. 

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