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Task Force Recommends Routine HIV Testing for All Adults

Nearly a quarter of HIV carriers don’t know they’re infected (Apr. 30)

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has released its final recommendation statement on screening for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection. The Task Force recommends that clinicians screen all people aged 15 to 65 years, as well as younger adolescents and older adults who are at an increased risk for HIV infection. It also recommends that all pregnant women, including those in labor whose HIV status is unknown, be screened for HIV.

“While the best way to reduce HIV-related disease and death is to avoid getting infected, screening is also extremely important,” said Task Force member Douglas K. Owens, MD, MS. “Nearly a quarter of people with HIV don’t know that they have it, and they’re missing out on a chance to take control of their disease. Universal screening will help identify more people with HIV, allowing them to start combined antiretroviral therapy earlier and live healthier and longer lives.”

The Task Force found that although there is no cure for HIV infection, treating people with HIV earlier not only can reduce their risk of developing acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) and delay its onset, but it also decreases the chance that they will pass on the infection to someone else. Treating pregnant women also reduces the chances that the virus will be transmitted to their babies.

Other groups, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the American College of Physicians, and the American Academy of Pediatrics, have issued similar recommendations for HIV screening.

“Primary care clinicians can play an important role in reducing HIV-related disease and death,” Owens said. “That is why our recommendation, which closely aligns with the HIV screening guidelines from the CDC, encourages clinicians to screen their patients for HIV.”

The Task Force’s recommendations were published online in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Source: USPSTF; April 29, 2013.

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