According to a draft recommendation from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, doctors in the U.S. should screen everyone from 15 years old to 65 years of age for HIV as well as older and younger people who have an increased risk for being infected the virus.
The task force said that all women who are pregnant should receive screening, including those ready to deliver whose status over HIV is unknown. The goal of the task force recommendation is to help people who are already infected to stay healthy and to delay the eventual onset of AIDS, while reducing the risk of further spreading of the infection.
This recommendation will now be posted to receive public comment on the website of the task force until mid December. The group is an independent task force of experts in evidence-based and prevention medicine and following public comment will develop their final recommendation.
Close to 1.2 million people living in the U.S. have HIV, but nearly 25% are not aware they are carriers of HIV, said experts. The recommendation reflects the new evidence that has demonstrated the benefits of earlier treatment of and screening for HIV, said one of the members of the task force.
Evidence shows that the risk of HIV transmission can be reduced by antiretroviral therapy and that initiating the therapy at an earlier stage might reduce the risk of a patient in developing complications that are AIDS related.
However, the task force authors did point out that taking steps to avoid any infection in the first place is the best way of reducing illness and deaths that are HIV related.