Lifestyle & Belief

All Americans aged 15 to 65 should have HIV test, says medical panel


A worker performs a CD4 HIV test at a lab of Shanghai Xuhui District Central Hospital in Shanghai, China, on December 6, 2006.


China photos

All Americans between the ages of 15 and 65 should be tested for HIV, a US panel of medical experts said Tuesday.

The US Preventive Services Task Force's new guidelines recommend that all doctors screen their patients between these ages, including pregnant women and those in labor. The panel also suggests children under 15 and adults over 65 be tested if they are considered high-risk.

More from GlobalPost: HIV cure months away, Danish scientists say, citing novel new DNA treatment

"HIV is a critical public health problem and, despite recent medical advances, still a devastating diagnosis for the 50,000 people in the United States who contract HIV each year. In order to help reduce the suffering of those with HIV and their loved ones, we must continue finding better ways to prevent and treat this disease," Task Force chair Virginia Moyer, a professor of pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, said in a statement.

The release of the new guidelines follow a number of well-publicized cases that showed early treatment with a combination of powerful antiretroviral drugs greatly improves patient survival rates. One of those cases was the Mississippi infant who was "functionally cured" of HIV immediately after birth in March.

GlobalPost's Freya Petersen previously reported on the possibility of a cure for HIV being months away, according to Danish scientists who created a new DNA treatment for the disease.

Researchers are flushing the virus from what they call reservoirs in human DNA, and the disease is then destroyed naturally by the immune system. The efficacy of the human body, however, is still unproven.