AIDS United Applauds New Testing Recommendations, Encourages Comments

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) released a draft updated recommendation on screening for HIV infection.  The Task Force is now recommending that “clinicians screen all people aged 15 to 65 for HIV infection.  Younger adolescents and older adults at an increased risk for HIV infection should also be screened.”  The recommendation gives routine HIV screening a Grade A.  Under current USPSTF policy, routine HIV screening is given a Grade C.  An “A” grade means there is strong evidence that a test has large potential benefits with small potential harm.  The Task Force draft recommendation release was paired with the publication of the evidence report summary in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine. 

The Task Force is also recommending routine screening of all pregnant women for HIV infection, including women in labor who do not know their HIV status.  The screening of pregnant women is also graded “A.”  

If the recommendations are adopted by the USPSTF members, it will represent a major step in increasing access to HIV testing and decreasing the number of people who do not know their HIV serostatus.  This includes a large number of people who are already infected with HIV.  A key provision of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires qualified health plans to provide as a coverage benefit preventive services that have a USPSTF grade of “A” or “B” without cost-sharing.  Routine HIV testing would also be covered under Medicare without cost sharing.  Final adoption of the recommendation could also lead to greater access to routine HIV screening under Medicaid.

The Task Force previously had established a Topic Group for Stakeholders (TOPS) to seek input from organizations that have an expertise and interest in HIV.  USPSTF is now also inviting public comments on the draft recommendations.  The comment period is November 20 – December 17, 2012.

AIDS United encourages everyone to read the draft recommendation [http://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/tfcomment.htm] and to submit comments to the Task Force.  A fact sheet on the recommendation can be found here