The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) recommend that HIV testing services include self- and community-based testing to improve HIV detection at an earlier stage.
According to the ECDC and the WHO/Europe, the number of people living with undiagnosed HIV is increasing in the WHO European Region. Every second HIV diagnosis happens at a late stage of the infection when the immune system has already started to fail, which according to the organisations is a sign that testing strategies are not working properly to diagnose HIV early. This contributes to ongoing HIV transmission as, often for years at a time, people do not know they have HIV and are not getting treatment.
The data also shows that the proportion of those who are diagnosed late increases with age, but the reasons for this are not yet fully understood. It may be that older adults or the healthcare workers underestimate the risk of infection.
Early diagnosis is important because it allows people to start HIV treatment sooner, which in turn increases their chances of living a long and healthy life and prevents further transmission, the ECDC/WHO statement concludes.