HIV screening for all, recommends task force

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The United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommended that all adolescents and adults undergo routine HIV screenings. According to the organization, “the benefit of screening adolescents and adults without risk factors for HIV is too small relative to potential harms to justify a general recommendation.”

“The Task Force’s new recommendations will expand the number of Americans who know their HIV status and can take action to protect themselves and their partners,” Center of Disease Control’s (CDC) Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention Director Dr. Jonathan Mermin said in a statement.

According to the CDC, the disease infects 50,000 people each year.

Before 2006, the organization recommended HIV screenings for only high-risk individuals. High-risk individuals included men who have sex with men, people who share needles with someone who are HIV-positive and a person who engages in unprotected sex.

Almost 1.2 million Americans live with HIV, with almost 25 percent unaware of their status, according to the CDC.

“CDC believes HIV testing should be as routine as a cholesterol test or a blood pressure check – but so far fewer than half of Americans have ever been tested,” said Mermin.

The change will signal momentous benefits such as decreasing HIV infections across the country. Early medical treatment “will help to not isolate those who are high-risk by instead focusing on everyone to promote healthier and longer lives.” 

By screening everyone, the discrimination of the people who are infected will dissipate, as individuals won’t feel ashamed for receiving testing.

“Stigma remains the single most important barrier to public action,” United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon said in an interview with the Washington Times. 

“It is a main reason why too many people are afraid to see a doctor to determine whether they have the disease, or to seek treatment if so … Stigma is a chief reason why the AIDS epidemic continues to devastate societies around the world.”

Additionally, the screenings will be affordable under the Affordable Care Act and will require everyone from ages 15 to 65 to undergo HIV screening at least once. 

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