Federal agency suggests HIV testing for everybody 15 to 65 years old

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force suggested Monday that all people age 15 to 65 should be tested to see if they have HIV (human immunodeficiency virus).

The recommendations are posted to encourage public comment.

Federal law requires the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), a leading independent panel of private-sector experts in prevention and primary care, to have the task force assess "the scientific evidence for the effectiveness of a broad range of clinical preventive services, including screening, counseling, and preventive medications."

The task force report strongly recommends that clinicians screen all people aged 15 to 65 for HIV infection. Younger adolescents and older adults who are at an increased risk for HIV infection should also be screened. The task force also strongly recommends that clinicians screen all pregnant women for HIV, including women in labor whose HIV status is unknown.

The report says nearly 1.2 million people in the United States are infected with HIV, but 20 to 25 percent do not know it.

“The draft recommendation reflects new evidence that demonstrates the benefits of both screening for and earlier treatment of HIV,” task force member Dr. Douglas K. Owens said in a statement.