New guidelines from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommend all Americans ages 15 to 64 are screened for HIV as they are for cholesterol, the AP reports:
The updated guidelines will bring this long-simmering issue before doctors and their patients again — emphasizing that public health experts agree on how important it is to test even people who don’t think they’re at risk, because they could be….And if finalized, the task force guidelines could extend the number of people eligible for an HIV screening without a copay in their doctor’s office, as part of free preventive care under the Obama administration’s health care law. Under the task force’s previous guidelines, only people at increased risk for HIV — which includes gay and bisexual men and injecting drug users — were eligible for that no-copay screening."
Every year, about 50,000 individuals in the U.S. are newly infected with HIV, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As of December 2011, the agency estimated that 1.2 million Americans had the virus, but it also noted that as many as 240,000 were not aware of it.
Says Chris Collins, Vice President and Director of Public Policy for amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research, in a statement to Towleroad: “Too many people living with HIV don’t know it and too often health care providers don’t offer their clients an HIV test. Today’s recommendation sends a clear message that screening for HIV should be a normal, routine part of appropriate health care. It’s an important step forward in connecting people to the lifesaving care they need.”