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U.S. Preventive Services Task Force Recommends Routine HIV Screening

U.S. Preventive Services Task Force Recommends Routine HIV Screening

November 21, 2012 — All U.S. residents ages 15 to 65 should be screened for HIV at least once, even if they are not at high risk of contracting the disease, according to draft recommendations released on Monday by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, the Wall Street Journal reports (Burton/McKay, Wall Street Journal, 11/19).

CDC already has called for routine HIV testing for individuals between ages 13 and 64, but finalized rules by USPSTF would have a broader impact, as the Affordable Care Act requires insurers to cover preventive services that the panel recommends (Steenhuysen, Reuters, 11/19).

The draft recommendations update USPSTF's prior position, which called for doctors to screen pregnant women and high-risk adults and adolescents, including men who have sex with men, people who use injectable drugs and individuals with infected partners. Although Monday's recommendations do not mandate how often people should get screened, the task force advised one-time screening of individuals to identify people who are HIV-positive, with repeat screenings of high-risk individuals.

The panel altered its position on HIV testing in response to new data showing that targeting only high-risk patients is ineffective at preventing the spread of the disease, according to an article published Monday in the Annals of Internal Medicine. The new recommendations are aimed at the nearly 200,000 U.S. residents who have HIV but do not realize it (Wall Street Journal, 11/19). Early testing and treatment is essential because HIV treatment can reduce transmission of the virus by 96%, recent studies have found.

The draft recommendations will be available for a 30-day public comment period before final recommendations are released, which likely will occur sometime in 2013 (Reuters, 11/19).