What is HIV?

HIV is the virus that causes AIDS (acquired immune deficiency disease syndrome). A person infected with HIV can pass the virus to others through blood, semen, or vaginal secretions. HIV is not passed to others through “casual contact” (contact that does not involve blood or body fluids).

I haven't heard much about HIV and AIDS in recent years. Isn’t it on the decline?

In the United States, about 1.2 million persons age 13 years and older are living with HIV/AIDS. Over the past decade, the number of people living with HIV has increased. However, almost 1 in 8 are unaware that they are infected. The number of new cases has declined slightly to 44,073 in 2014.

Locally, there were 4,381 cases of HIV in Cuyahoga County (2015 data). This has been growing each year.

Does the Cleveland Clinic encourage patients to be screened for HIV?

Yes, the Cleveland Clinic recommends that patients be offered HIV screening. Many physician and health organizations recommend that screening be offered as part of routine medical care:

  • The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is recommending this.
  • The Infectious Disease Society of America – another professional organization of infectious disease specialists – also supports the CDC’s recommendations; so does the director of the National Institutes of Health.
  • The American College of Physicians – the world’s largest professional organization of internists – also encourages all patients to be tested, and that clinicians adopt the CDC’s routine screening guidelines for their patients.
  • The screening recommendation has also been adopted by the United States Prevention Services Task Force.