HIV screening for all adults urged

A U.S. medical group recommends universal HIV screening for teens and adults aged 15 to 65.

Convincing evidence of benefits from identifying and treating HIV infection before symptoms appear, panel says

A U.S. medical group recommends universal HIV screening for teens and adults.

On Monday, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force lent support to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention HIV screening guidelines.

The voluntary HIV screening would be part of routine health checks in the U.S. (Jianan Yu/Reuters)

"The USPSTF recommends that clinicians screen adolescents and adults aged 15 to 65 years for HIV infection," the group said in Tuesday's issue of the journal Annals of Internal Medicine. 

The voluntary screening would be part of routine health checks.

As in Canada, the U.S. group says all pregnant women should be tested.

Since it last looked at the topic in 2005, data suggested very little harm in regular HIV screening, the task force reported.

But when screening is targeted at people considered at "high risk" only, new cases are often missed.

The task force found "convincing evidence that identification and treatment of HIV infection is associated with a markedly reduced risk for progression to AIDS."

The group estimated about 20 per cent to 25 per cent of those living with HIV infection are unaware of their positive status.

Writing in an editorial in the Canadian Medical Association Journal last year, Dr. Julio Montaner, director of the British Columbia Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS in Vancouver, also advocated for routine HIV screening of all sexually active people in Canada.

Several Vancouver hospitals now offer HIV screening for those admitted or coming to the emergency department.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force is an independent group of experts who make recommendations on screening procedures such as mammography and PSA tests.