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New Guidelines Recommend HIV Testing Start at age 15

Update Date: Apr 30, 2013 11:17 AM EDT
HIV
A combination of several factors could explain how the HIV epidemic started in Africa. (Photo : Wiki Commons)

The consensus that every one should start getting HIV tested continues to build as government agencies and medical professionals agree that people in general need to be tested at least once. In a recent meeting, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and a large amount of personnel from medical societies have issued a new set of guidelines pushing for universal testing for the virus.

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The guidelines recommend that teenagers and adults between the ages of 15 and 65 should ideally get screened for HIV at least once, even if the individual is not considered high risk for the virus. For people who have a higher risk for the virus, the guidelines recommend retesting for the virus at least once a year. On top of that, women who are pregnant should get tested if they have not done so for the safety of both mother and child. Universal testing was not advised back in 2005 because the independent group that studied the risks and dangers of tests and treatments found several risk factors linked to the side effects of such treatment.

In current day, however, treatments for HIV and AIDS have improved significantly, with less dangerous side effects. Now, the agencies and medical professionals believe that universal testing would help with fighting and controlling the virus. According to the numbers provided by agencies, nearly 50,000 people get infected per year in the United States and an estimated 20 to 25 percent of Americans do not know that they have the virus. The task force believes that the percentage of Americans that are unaware of their health status jumps to nearly 60 percent in teenagers and young adults.

"We would hope to capture people who either weren't aware that they were at increased risk or preferred not to disclose that," the director of the Center for Health Policy from Stanford University, Dr. Douglas Owens stated. "We're trying to identify everyone who has HIV, irrespective of risk behaviors.

However, the task force did define factors that would be considered high risk in order to inform people how often they should ideally get tested. High-risk individuals include having several sex partners, using IV drugs and men sleeping with men. The CDC recommends these individuals get tested once or even more than once per year. Regardless, the USPSTF and the CDC hopes that every gets tested for HIV for their own safety and the safety of others. 

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