Atlanta Journal-Constitution Examines Conflicting Recommendations by Health Task Force, CDC for Routine HIV Testing
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Tuesday examined CDC's "ambitious" plan to recommend voluntary HIV testing as part of routine medical exams, whether "it will become a reality" and how it conflicts with a federal health task force's conclusions on such guidelines (Young, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 5/9). CDC last week announced that it plans to recommend that physicians offer voluntary HIV testing to all U.S. residents ages 13 to 64 as part of routine medical exams in private practices, clinics, hospitals and emergency departments (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 5/8). The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force in 2005 did not recommend HIV testing for children and adults who have none of the risk factors associated with HIV transmission, which include having unprotected sex with multiple sex partners, using or formerly using injection drugs and being treated for sexually transmitted infections (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 7/5/05). The task force said they could not recommend for or against routine HIV testing because there was a lack of evidence available on the benefits of such a practice, the Journal-Constitution reports. According to Bruce Calonge, task force chair, there is no documented evidence of the benefits of routine HIV screening. The two groups might have produced "conflicting" recommendations because they have different missions, Calonge said, adding that the task force examines the benefits to each patient, while CDC seeks to improve the health of the population. In addition, it is "unclear" whether Medicare -- which is not generally required to cover routine medical tests -- and private insurers will agree to pay for routine HIV tests, the Journal-Constitution reports. Susan Pisano, spokesperson for America's Health Insurance Plans, which represents private insurers, said the companies are looking over the recommendations of both agencies, but, "[g]enerally speaking our member companies follow recommendations" of the task force (Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 5/9).This is part of the Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.