In the last month, the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) has recommended that all Americans ages 15-65 years be tested for HIV, regardless of their perceived risk.
The current strategy of screening only those persons thought to be at high risk for HIV has not been able to identify as many as 250,000 Americans who are infected with HIV, but do not know that they are infected.
One of the most important criteria for deciding whether to screen for a disease (doing a test on a person who does not have any signs or symptoms of the disease) is whether finding an illness sooner rather than later makes a difference in how the patient does with the illness. Finding and treating HIV early decreases the complications of the illness and extends life. Equally important, identifying HIV early helps prevent unknowing spread of the illness to others.
HIV testing is inexpensive and very accurate. For low risk patients, the current recommendation is to be tested only once. The test can be performed on a blood sample at the time of other lab tests. Home kits are available that test the cells from the inside of the mouth and give results in 20 minutes.
Dr. Mohler has practiced family medicine in Grand Junction for 38 years. He has a particular interest in pharmaceutical education. Phil works part-time for both Primary Care Partners and Rocky Mountain Health Plans.