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What Are HIV Community Members Most Proud Of?

December 4, 2012


Ed Perlmutter

Ed Perlmutter

HIV Testing Advocate, Boston; Diagnosed in 2006

The (routine HIV screening) chorus just got a whole lot louder. Its collective voice is clear, its message precise - no out-of-tune cacophony here, and how sweet that chorus sounds.

I was pleased as punch to learn in late November that the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force is now calling for routine HIV screening for all Americans aged 15 to 65. The task force, federal government-backed and comprised of doctors and scientists, is also calling for routine HIV screening for all pregnant women. More good news (and why elections are so important): Under the Affordable Care Act of 2010 insurers are required to cover preventive services that are recommended by this task force.

There is a direct cause-effect between early and routine screening and diagnosing new HIV cases and getting these people into treatment when appropriate. Treatment not only helps the HIV-positive individual live in health, but it also helps prevent future virus transmissions. And the current recommendation does not cherry-pick about who should be tested (as is presently the case in many places, including the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, where I live). Rather, the task force recommends screening everyone regardless of their risk. I've been promoting routine HIV testing for some time here at and elsewhere, and we're much closer now to the 2006 U.S. Centers for Disease Control recommendation to make HIV testing as routine as a cholesterol screen.

On Worlds AIDS Day I have so much to be proud of, and thankful for, and I'm extraordinarily grateful to the task force for their recommendation and the positive, stigma-free direction for the future of HIV screening and diagnosis.

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