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Editorials Endorse Population-Based HIV/AIDS Testing, Prevention Campaigns

The United States Preventive Services Task Force, an independent government advisory panel, on Tuesday published updated guidelines for HIV screening in the U.S., recommending that physicians test all adults ages 15-65, all pregnant women, and younger adolescents and older adults who are at increased risk of infection. The following summarizes two editorials that note the new recommendations.

  • The Lancet: “In just over three decades, AIDS has exacted a severe toll on human health and drawn inspiring responses from patients, researchers, and doctors”; however, “[m]ajor challenges remain,” the editorial states. In the U.S. and the U.K., between 20 and 25 percent of people living with HIV are undiagnosed, The Lancet notes. “[I]mproved access of low-income groups to testing and treatment will undoubtedly require a successful transition to comprehensive health coverage in the USA,” the editorial states, and it “welcome[s]” a new HIV public awareness campaign recently launched in the U.K. “[P]redictable human behaviors transmit the virus — sex, childbirth, and injection drug use,” The Lancet notes, concluding, “Along with the ongoing task of providing antiretrovirals to some 34 million people living with HIV worldwide, comprehensive provision of information and health care will be key in meeting the exacting challenge of minimizing new infections” (5/4).
  • New York Times: If the “more than 200,000 Americans [who] are infected but don’t know it … could be detected and treated with antiviral drugs, they would be less likely to suffer severe illness and premature death and less able to spread the virus to others through sexual intercourse or needle-sharing,” the editorial states. “The advice comes on the heels of reports that strong antiviral drugs administered shortly after infection virtually eliminated active virus from a Mississippi baby and several patients in France, an achievement that underscores the crucial importance of early detection,” according to the New York Times. Though “[t]hese reports, which need to be confirmed by further studies, were not considered by the task force, … they add to hopes that the world could, by committing sufficient resources to detection and treatment, finally bring the AIDS epidemic under control,” the editorial concludes (5/2).