Health Panel Likely to Make HIV Tests Routine
Recommendation expected before the end of the year (Aug. 20)
Reuters reported on August 20 that a U.S. health panel may soon make HIV testing as standard as checking cholesterol levels, a move that would fundamentally change how the virus is detected and treated.
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force is expected to make a new recommendation on HIV screening before the end of the year.
Health officials anticipate that the panel will issue a positive recommendation for routine screening — updating their current position, issued in 2005, which leaves the decision up to physicians. Under President Barack Obama's healthcare law, passed in 2010, insurers are required to cover preventive services that are recommended by the task force.
The human immunodeficiency virus/acquired immune deficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDs) epidemic remains a significant health challenge in the U.S., with an estimated 1.2 million people living with the disease. Of this group, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 20% are unaware of their infection. Nearly 60,000 new cases of HIV infection, which causes AIDS, are reported nationally each year.
Global health officials have stepped up the call for earlier treatment of people infected with HIV. New studies show that the latest HIV medications not only can extend the lives of patients for decades but are also one of the most potent ways of preventing their sexual partners from contracting the disease. Early treatment of HIV has been reported to cut transmission risk to uninfected partners by 96%.
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