New Guidelines say Yes, we all should get routine HIV Screening!

routine HIV ScreeningThe American College of Physicians now believes that all patients over the age of 13 should be routinely screened for HIV, in part because most people do not tell their doctor about their risky behaviors. For this reason and because a significant percentage of people are unaware they are already infected, the group that represents internists is upping the previous recommendations of who should be screened and how often.

A representative of the American College of Physicians says that 25% of the 1 million to 1.2 million people with HIV have not been diagnosed or do not know they have contracted the virus. (A few months ago, we asked if you are still scared of getting HIV, and relatively few of you responded at all. Perhaps this just proves the point made by the American College of Physicians.)

These new recommendations surpass the guidelines set forth by the Center for Disease Control, who previously advised more routine testing of people aged 64 and younger, and the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force, who advocated screening only higher-risk patients. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists echoes the new guidelines, also asking that all women aged 19 to 64 are screened, no matter their perceived risk of infection.

Unfortunately, a lack of funding has prevented even the older recommendations from being incorporated into most urgent care facilities. Currently, only 50 to 100 of the 5,000 hospital emergency rooms in this country perform routine HIV testing.

Clearly, the hope here is that increased screening will mean that more infected people will be diagnosed and treated. Not only would this serve the individual's health, but would also be another effort to prevent the inadvertent spread of HIV.

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