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CDC Urges Routine HIV Testing in Health Care Settings

Simplified process would speed diagnosis in those unaware of HIV status

THURSDAY, Sept. 21 (HealthDay News) -- The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is calling for voluntary, routine HIV testing of patients between ages 13 and 64 in all health care settings. The revised recommendations for HIV testing are published Sept. 22 in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Patients being treated in primary care settings, hospital emergency departments, public health clinics, community clinics, correctional health care facilities and other clinical settings should be screened after being informed of the test unless they decide to opt out of the screening, according to the CDC. The new guidelines seek to speed early diagnosis and treatment of the estimated quarter-million U.S. residents who are unaware they are infected, as well as prevent transmission of the virus.

Nearly one million Americans had been diagnosed with AIDS by December 2004 and of these, more than half had died. Almost 40 percent of those found HIV-positive are diagnosed within a year of full-blown AIDS, the CDC notes.

The guidelines include other revisions, such as including routine testing as part of prenatal care to cut the risk of vertical transmission, and annual screening of those at high risk of HIV.

"We urgently need new approaches to reach the quarter-million Americans with HIV who do not realize they are infected," Julie L. Gerberding, M.D., CDC director, said in a statement. "People with HIV have a right to know that they are infected so they can seek treatment and take steps to protect themselves and their partners."

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