Coming to a check up near you (maybe):

All patients aged 15-65 years should be screened for HIV, regardless of their risk level, according to updated recommendations of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force published online April 30 in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

The new strategy will substantially decrease the HIV disease burden across the country, dramatically reduce transmission of the virus, and markedly curtail infected patients’ progression to AIDS and death, said Dr. Virginia A. Moyer, chair of the USPSTF and professor of pediatrics at Baylor University and Texas Children’s Hospital, Houston, and her associates.

 

Mary Ann Moon also reports that existing screening tests — both conventional and rapid tests — are extremely accurate, with sensitivities and specificities of 99.5%, making false-positive and false-negative results rare.  The authors of the new policy recommendations explain the rationale for why these recommendations are being made now:

An estimated 1.2 million persons in the United States are currently living with HIV infection, and the annual incidence of the disease is approximately 50,000 cases. Since the first cases of AIDS were reported in 1981, more than 1.1 million persons have been diagnosed and nearly 595,000 have died from the condition. Approximately 20% to 25% of individuals living with HIV infection are unaware of their positive status.

 

That comes to more than a quarter of a million people in the U.S. who may be infected with HIV and don’t know it!

Maybe these recommendations to screen teenagers, adults, and pregnant women are  coming forty years too late.  And you know they won’t be adopted without some special interest group or groups making a big stink.  But someday — better late than never — they will be adopted.

 

HIV screening recommendations