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HIV testing could be made easier with new proposed guidelines

A rack of blood vials is seen.
November 20, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
A new effort is underway that could make testing for the AIDS virus as routine as a cholesterol check.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force is recommending that all people between the ages of 15 and 65 get tested for HIV, including all pregnant women.

About 1.1 million people in the U.S. are HIV positive, but about one in five don't know it.

A doctor can add an HIV test when blood is drawn if requested. There are also rapid tests that cost less than $20 and require a swab over the gums.

Free testing is available through various community programs around the country, including a CDC pilot program in drugstores in 24 cities and rural sites.

The proposal also recommends:

-Testing people older and younger than 15-64 if they are at increased risk of HIV infection.

-People at very high risk for HIV infection should be tested at least annually.

-Retesting people at somewhat increased risk, perhaps every three to five years.

-Women should be tested during each pregnancy, something the task force has long recommended.

If finalized, the task force guidelines could expand the number of people who don't need a copay for an HIV screening, as part of free preventive care under the Obama administration's Affordable Care Act. Under the task force's previous guidelines, only people at increased risk for HIV -- which includes gay and bisexual men and injecting drug users -- were eligible for non-copay screening.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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