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.
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

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs