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HIV Tests No Longer Just For High Risk Groups

An HIV test strip is used to test blood.
AP Photo/Luis Romero
An HIV test strip is used to test blood.

Every person between the ages of 15 and 65, regardless of risk factors, should get routinely tested for HIV. That’s the recommendation from the US Preventative Services Task Force, an independent panel of doctors and researchers.It’s a big change.  As recently as 2005, the same task force recommended routine testing only for high-risk patients: gay men and intravenous drug users.

One reason for the change is to prevent the spread of HIV among people who don’t realize they’re infected.

“People who aren’t aware of their HIV infection account for over half of all transmissions. By going on HIV medicines, people can reduce the risk of spreading the virus to others,” says Dr. Joanne Stekler, assistant professor of medicine at the University of Washington.

Stekler says the new guidelines will require insurance companies to pay for routine HIV testing, and it will be covered under the Affordable Care Act.

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In 2010, Washington state passed a law making it easier for doctors to provide HIV testing as a part of routine medical care. The law also eliminated the requirement that physicians conduct pre-test counseling.

Year started with KUOW: 2006