News / Health

US Health Panel Recommends Routine HIV Testing

People holding banners march to campaign for increased aids awareness in the streets of Nigeria's capital Abuja December 1, 2006 on World Aids Day.People holding banners march to campaign for increased aids awareness in the streets of Nigeria's capital Abuja December 1, 2006 on World Aids Day.
x
People holding banners march to campaign for increased aids awareness in the streets of Nigeria's capital Abuja December 1, 2006 on World Aids Day.
People holding banners march to campaign for increased aids awareness in the streets of Nigeria's capital Abuja December 1, 2006 on World Aids Day.
TEXT SIZE - +
Jessica Berman
An independent panel of U.S. health experts is recommending that all Americans between the ages of 15 and 65 be routinely screened for HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.  The HIV test would not be mandatory.  But experts hope more widespread testing might reduce some of the stigma attached to getting screened for the sexually transmitted disease. And they believe it could lead to earlier treatment for those who test positive for HIV, and further slow the spread of this potentially lethal infection.  

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 1.2 million Americans are living with the AIDS virus and every year, the number of HIV-infected individuals increases by about 45,000.  Public health specialists say that about 25 percent of infected people do not know they are carrying the virus.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, a government-backed advisory panel made up of 16 doctors and scientists, is urging that everyone between 15 and 65 years of age be offered an HIV test.  

Carlos Del Rio, who is not a member of the health panel, is co-director of the Emory Center for AIDS Research in Atlanta, Georgia. He says early screening is important for two reasons:

“People [who undergo screening] are less likely to progress to disease and, as importantly, are people who are less likely to transmit to others.  So starting therapy early leads to better disease outcomes," said Del Rio.

Experts say early detection - when patients' immune systems are still relatively intact  - increases the odds that they will live longer and not spread the virus to others.

In 2005, the Task Force had recommended HIV testing for adults at high risk for becoming infected, including those who had unprotected sex with multiple partners and those who were intravenous drug abusers. Now, for the first time, Del Rio says, the HIV test would be offered as an early screening tool rather than a diagnostic test late in the disease process when patients go to their doctors with a list of health complaints.

As with any other screening test, Del Rio says this one would be voluntary.

“So if you don’t want to be tested, you don’t need to be tested.  I mean if I go to my clinician [and he] says, hey, you know the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force suggests we get an HIV testing, and I say I really don’t want that, you don’t need to get it," he said. "This is not ordering mandatory testing, right?"

Before making their new screening recommendation, the task force members agreed that the tests have to be accurate, treatment for the AIDS virus must be readily available and, importantly, the benefits of testing must outweigh any harm to those taking the test.

A description of the voluntary HIV testing recommendation is published in The Annals of Internal Medicine.  

You May Like

Photogallery Pope's Easter Prayer: Peace in Ukraine, Syria

Pontiff also calls for end to terrorist acts in Nigeria, violence in Iraq, and success in peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians More

Abdullah Holds Lead in Afghan Presidential Election

Country's Election Commission says that with half of the ballots counted, former FM remains in the lead with 44 percent of the vote More

Russia-Ukraine Crisis Could Trigger Cyber War

As tensions between Kyiv and Moscow escalate, so too has frequency of online attacks targeting government, news and financial sites More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid