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Everyone Between 15 And 65 Should Be Tested For HIV Infection, According To The U.S. Preventative Services Task Force

May 02, 2013 12:40 PM EDT

Everyone between the age of 15 and 65 should be tested for HIV infection, according to a recent recommendation put forth by the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF).

Furthermore, the USPSTF encouraged earlier testing for those younger than 15 years of age who are exposed to risk factors of HIV infection, as well as testing after 65 where there are instances of high risk, such as new sexual partners.

The only exception to the recommendation, according to the USPSTF, are those populations for which the prevalence of undiagnosed HIV infection is known to be 0.1 percent or less and where the potential benefit per person screened is low.

A major reason for the recommendation, according to the USPSTF, is that, of the estimated 1.2 million HIV-positive individuals currently living in the United States, 20 percent to 25 percent are not aware of their positive status.

Furthermore, the USPSTF said it found “convincing evidence that conventional and rapid HIV antibody tests are highly accurate in diagnosing HIV infection,” and that early identification and treatment is associated with a markedly reduced risk for progression to AIDS or AIDS-related events, and ultimately death in individuals with immunologically advanced diseased.

The group’s report does not, however, lay out the optimum time for intervals for HIV screening, though it does state that one “reasonable” approach would be that of one-time screening of adolescent and adult patients to identify if the individual is already HIV-positive with repeated screening of those known to be at risk for HIV infection.

According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), men who have sex with men account for about 60 percent of HIV-positive individuals in the United States. Among women living with HIV infection, 74 percent are attributed to heterosexual contact and the remainder to injection drug use. In all, the CDC estimates that heterosexual contact accounted for 25 percent of new HIV infections in 2010 and 27 percent in 2009.

Since the first cases of AIDS were reported in 1981, more than 1.1 million people have been diagnosed with the condition, of which 595,000 have died.

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