People between the ages of 15 and 65 should have the blood test for HIV as part of a routine check-up, even if they are not members of a high-risk group, according to draft recommendations from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force.
The rationale is that early detection of the virus can lead to earlier treatment with drugs, which not only prolongs the lives of infected people but also helps prevent the spread of the disease.
It’s estimated that 1.2 million Americans are infected with HIV and that 20 to 25 percent of them don’t know it. About 50,000 Americans become infected each year. People at low risk may need to be tested only once, while those at higher risk should be rescreened periodically. People over 65 should be tested only if they are at increased risk for HIV infection.