Test all adults aged 15 to 65 for HIV, recommends task force

BMJ 2012; 345 doi: (Published 21 November 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;345:e7944
  1. Edward Davies
  1. 1New York

A government task force has drafted a recommendation that everyone in the United States aged between 15 and 65 should be tested for HIV, in an effort to curb transmission and to get treatment to those already infected.

The US Preventive Services Task Force said that its draft recommendation, which is also aimed at all pregnant girls and women, seeks to prevent people from infecting others or developing AIDS themselves.

The task force estimated that around 1.2 million people in the US are infected with HIV and that as many as 200 000 of them may be unaware of it.

“The draft recommendation reflects new evidence that demonstrates the benefits of both screening for and earlier treatment of HIV,” said a task force member, Douglas K Owens.

“Because HIV infection usually does not cause symptoms in the early stages, people need to be screened to learn if they are infected,” Owens said. “People who are feeling well and learn they are infected with HIV can begin treatment earlier, reduce their chances of developing AIDS, and live longer and healthier lives.”

Some HIV advocacy and research groups have welcomed the recommendation.

“This news about screening is very exciting,” Carlos Del Rio, co-director of the Emory Center for AIDS research, told ABC News.

“People are terrible at knowing their own risk,” said Del Rio, adding that people might be unaware of the HIV status of their sexual partners. “And doctors are terrible at asking them about risk. It can be difficult to discuss sex and drugs with our patients.”

However, many organizations, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, have refused to comment while the recommendation is still in draft form.


Cite this as: BMJ 2012;345:e7944


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