A US panel of experts wants HIV tests to be a routine part of medical checkups for everyone aged 15 to 64, the Los Angeles Times reports. The US Preventive Services Task Force last came up with a set of guidelines in 2005, suggesting routine screening only for those at increased risk of contracting the virus, but studies since then have found that everyone is better off if near-universal testing is implemented. The panel thus proposed a new set of guidelines, which were posted online yesterday for four weeks of public comment.
If adopted, the recommendations will require Medicare and most private health insurers to pay for HIV screening. Testing would be optional, but would be the default unless a patient declines or is at extremely low risk. Such wide testing could help in a number of ways: Those who are treated for HIV earlier tend to fare better and transmit the virus much less often. Plus, if the test is routine the stigma associated with it will be removed, doctors hope. A CDC study last year found that 20% of those infected with HIV in the US aren't aware of it.