(ROCKVILLE, Md.) — New guidelines about HIV testing from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force may come as a surprise to some. The task force now strongly recommends expanding testing for the virus behind AIDS to include everyone ages 15 to 65.
An estimated 1.2 million people in the United States are living with HIV, with annual incidence of the disease at approximately 50,000 cases, according to the task force — an independent panel of non-government experts in health prevention.
Writing in the Annals of Internal Medicine, the authors say ending the AIDS epidemic begins with diagnosing individuals. The group found that, under its less broad guidelines issued in 2005, about 20 percent of HIV-infected people went undiagnosed.
Like the previous guidelines, the new ones stress HIV testing for all pregnant women — even those in labor, if they have not been screened. This dramatically reduces the rate of mother-to-child transmission.
The group also suggests annual re-testing for those engaged in high-risk behavior.
The goal of expanding the screening recommendations is to inform all HIV-infected persons of their status so they’ll start treatment and avoid the risks of passing the virus to others.
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