Panel says everyone should have HIV test
BY MONTE MORIN, Los Angeles Times
LOS ANGELES -- Citing recent evidence that HIV infections are best managed when treated early, an influential panel of medical experts has finalized its recommendation that all people ages 15 to 65 be screened for the virus that causes AIDS.
The recommendation from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force seeks to address one of the key challenges in the fight against HIV/AIDS: The window during which patients respond best to treatment is also the time when symptoms of the disease are least noticeable.
"HIV is a critical public health problem, and there are still 50,000 new infections per year," said Dr. Doug Owens, a task force member and professor of medicine at Stanford University. "There's very good evidence that treatment is effective when given earlier, at a time when people are often asymptomatic. So the only way they would know that they had HIV, or that they needed treatment, is to be screened."
The guideline is being released after a number of well-publicized cases in which early treatment with a combination of powerful antiretroviral drugs has greatly improved patient survival rates. In one of those instances, doctors reported in March that an infant in Mississippi who began aggressive drug treatment immediately after birth had been "functionally cured" of HIV.
The new statement was published online Monday on the task force's website and by the Annals of Internal Medicine.