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Federal task force recommends general HIV screening

Monday April 29, 2013
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The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has released a final recommendation statement on screening for HIV, saying clinicians should screen all people ages 15 to 65 and younger adolescents and older adults who are at an increased risk for HIV infection. All pregnant women, including those in labor whose HIV status is unknown, also should be screened.

“While the best way to reduce HIV-related disease and death is to avoid getting infected, screening is also extremely important,” task force member Douglas K. Owens, MD, MS, said in a news release. “Nearly a quarter of people with HIV don’t know that they have it, and they’re missing out on a chance to take control of their disease. Universal screening will help identify more people with HIV, allowing them to start combined antiretroviral therapy earlier and live healthier and longer lives.”

The Task Force found that although there is no cure for HIV infection, treating people with HIV earlier can not only reduce their risk of developing AIDS and delay its onset, but also decrease the chance that they will pass on the infection to someone else. Treating pregnant women also reduces the chance that the virus will be transmitted to their babies.

“HIV is a critical public health problem and, despite recent medical advances, still a devastating diagnosis for the 50,000 people in the United States who contract HIV each year," said task force chairwoman Virginia Moyer, MD, MPH. "In order to help reduce the suffering of those with HIV and their loved ones, we must continue finding better ways to prevent and treat this disease."

Other groups, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, American College of Physicians and American Academy of Pediatrics, have similar recommendations for HIV screening.

“Primary care clinicians can play an important role in reducing HIV-related disease and death,” Owens said. “That is why our recommendation, which closely aligns with the HIV screening guidelines from the CDC, encourages clinicians to screen their patients for HIV.”

Read the recommendation and supporting statements: www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/uspstf/uspshivi.htm


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