Mention HIV test and you’re sure to get an “it’s only for HIV-infected people” kind of response. At the very least, you can’t expect a perfectly healthy person to declare “I’ve had an HIV test,” because to these days, HIV remains a sensitive topic where a lot of people are still inadequately informed.
In an effort to remove the stigma associated with HIV test, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force is proposing that people ages 15 to 64 should get HIV screening at least once.
The independent panel’s draft guidelines are the latest recommendations that aim to make HIV screening simply a routine part of a checkup, something a doctor can order with as little fuss as a cholesterol test or a mammogram, the Journal Sentinel reports.
Task Force member Douglas Owens of Stanford University and the Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Health Care System said the guidelines allow doctors to tell their patients “This is a recommended test that we believe everybody should have. We’re not singling you out in any way.”
According to a new national study, 6 out of 10 young people with HIV don’t even know they have the infection. That’s because many people don’t treat HIV test as important as any other commonly administered medical tests.
The Task Force’s proposal also recommends testing people older and younger than 15-64 if they are at increased risk of HIV infection; testing people at very high risk for HIV infection at least annually; and testing women during each pregnancy, something the task force has long recommended.
If finalized, the guidelines could extend the number of people eligible for an HIV screening without a co-pay in their doctor’s office, as part of free preventive care under the Obama administration’s health care law.