Health Panel Likely To Make HIV Tests Routine

A U.S. health panel plans to recommend that when you go in for your yearly physical, you have an HIV test.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task force, a government-backed group of clinicians and scientists is going to make their recommendations available for public comment this year, according to Reuters, and many consider this a positive step in containment of HIV.

“This would be one of those major sea changes… moving away from what has been somewhat the segmentation of HIV — either by population, by geography,” Michael Kharfen, chief of community outreach for the Washington DC Department of Health, told Reuters.

USA Today notes that the recommendation is significant not only because it could lead to increased testing, but because recommendations by the panel will have to be covered by insurance.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as other groups, have previously called for more widespread testing to help identify and treat those who have HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. The global health community also has called for more HIV testing and earlier treatment of those infected as studies show that early treatment can add decades to patients lives, but can also reduce the risk of transmittance of HIV from one partner to another.

While the public health benefits to widespread HIV tests seem clear, there is a cost. Stanford researchers say expanding HIV testing to the general U.S. population would reach $27 billion dollars over a 20-year span. Adding an HIV test to a routine blood exam would cost about $1.50 per test.