Washington D.C. (April 30, 2013)—AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) today lauded the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, an independent group under the umbrella of the Department of Health and Human Services, for its final recommendation for routine testing for HIV of all people ages 15-64. The recommendation comes seven years after a panel at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) issued similar guidelines calling for such routine HIV testing (of individuals ages 13 to 64) in most medical settings such as health clinics, doctors’ offices and emergency units; however, the CDC’s guidelines have not been widely implemented due in part to questions as to who pays for such testing. Now, the recommendation from U.S. Preventive Services Task Force for similar testing guidelines paves the way for Medicare and other government and private insurance programs to pay for such routine testing.
“We applaud the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force for its new recommendation calling for routine HIV testing for all persons ages 15-64. Making HIV testing a routine part of health care really is the key to controlling and reducing the number of undiagnosed individuals and will ultimately help us break the chain of new infections,“ said Michael Weinstein, President of AIDS Healthcare Foundation. “What’s key now is for Medicare, Medicaid, and all health plans to implement these guidelines so that more people can easily access HIV testing.”
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force is the latest medical body to support routine HIV testing for all persons. In September 2006, CDC first issues its guidelines encouraging U.S. medical providers to make HIV testing a “routine part of care in health care settings for all patients ages 13 through 64,” and urged linkages to care and treatment for those found to be HIV infected. The CDC also suggested that, “(HIV)… screening should be routine, regardless of whether the patient is known or suspected to have specific behavioral risks for HIV infection.”
“There are more than 1.1 million Americans currently living with HIV/AIDS. About half of that number do not consistently receive medical care, and more than one fifth of the total do not even know they are infected with HIV,” said Whitney Engeran-Cordova, Senior Director, Public Health Division, for AIDS Healthcare Foundation. “We welcome these recommendations from the Task Force and believe it’s high time to implement the guidelines.