ORLANDO, Fla. – More than 1.1 million people in the United States have the HIV virus and about 15 percent of them have no idea that they do.
Doctors said this is a problem because an early diagnosis is the key to a better outcome.
"(HIV) Is a very treatable condition if it's caught early and treated early," said Dr. Rachel Presti, of the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.
A simple blood test is all it takes to detect HIV, but many men don't get tested.
In a new study conducted in east Africa, researchers looked at whether giving pregnant women self-testing kits for their partners could boost testing rates.
Researchers found providing the kits along with an incentive to attend an HIV clinic did the trick.
After 28 days, 17 percent of men in the control group were tested for HIV but 87 percent to 95 percent of those in the intervention group got tested.
"A lot of people still get diagnosed late, so they may have opportunistic infections that are hard to treat," Presti said.
Spotting HIV earlier can slow the spread of the virus, allowing patients to get on medications sooner and improve the odds of long-term survival.
Studies show that people who are aware that they have HIV are less likely to engage in high-risk behaviors.
Experts said the unaware HIV population is responsible for about 50 percent to 70 percent of new infections.