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All should have HIV screening

New guidelines encourage doctors to screen everyone ages 15 to 65 for HIV, not just those at risk for the disease.


Don’t be surprised if your doctor asks to screen you for HIV during your next visit. New guidelines call for all adolescents and adults ages 15 to 65 years to be screened for the disease.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force is now urging clinicians to screen adolescents and adults for HIV infection, regardless of their risk for getting the disease.

The guidelines say that pregnant women, those younger than 15 and adults over 65 should also be screened if they are at an increased risk.

In 2005, the USPSTF required screening for pregnant women along with adolescents and adults that were at an increased risk for infection. The updated guidelines are based on evidence showing that early intervention lowers the risk for AIDS-related events or death, and decreases the risk of spreading the disease. The Centers for Disease Control already calls for all adults to be screened.

“HIV is a very critical public health problem and we need a better way to prevent infections and treat people who have HIV. Of course the best way to reduce HIV disease and deaths is to not become infected and our hope is that message will get out and people will take steps to reduce their risk,” said Dr. Douglas K. Owens, a Stanford University professor and task force member.

“We hope this will provide more impetus for people to provide screening and that more people will learn about their status and that’s important because treatment for HIV is very good and treatment early in disease is important. Often people are asymptotic and they wouldn’t know they have HIV or that they are candidates for treatment. That’s why screening is important,” he added.

The guidelines were published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

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