TUESDAY, Nov. 20 (HealthDay News) -- Doctors should screen all
people aged 15 to 65 for HIV, as well as younger and older people
who are at increased risk for infection with the virus that causes
AIDS, according to a U.S. Preventive Services Task Force draft
In addition, all pregnant women should be screened, including
those in labor whose HIV status is unknown, the task force
The goals of the recommendation are to help people already
infected with HIV stay healthy, delay the onset of AIDS and reduce
the risk of spreading the infection.
The recommendation will be posted for public comment on the task
force's website until Dec. 17. The task force, an independent group
of experts in prevention and evidence-based medicine, will then
develop a final recommendation.
Nearly 1.2 million people in the United States are living with
HIV infection, but up to 25 percent of them do not know they have
HIV, the experts said.
"The draft recommendation reflects new evidence that
demonstrates the benefits of both screening for and earlier
treatment of HIV," task force member Dr. Douglas Owens, professor
of medicine at Stanford University, said in a task force news
There is evidence that antiretroviral therapy can reduce the
risk of HIV transmission to others, and also that initiating
combined antiretroviral therapy at an earlier stage of infection
may reduce a patient's risk of developing AIDS-related
"Because HIV infection usually does not cause symptoms in the
early stages, people need to be screened to learn if they are
infected," Owens said. "People who are feeling well and learn they
are infected with HIV can begin treatment earlier, reduce their
chances of developing AIDS and live longer and healthier
The authors pointed out, however, that the best way to achieve
the ultimate goal of the recommendation -- which is to reduce
HIV-related illness and death -- is to take steps to avoid
infection in the first place.
For more on the recommendation, visit the
U.S. Preventive Services Task Forcewebsite.