Should HIV Testing Be Routine for Everyone Ages 15-64?

I’ve been tested, have you?

In a new report, a U.S. panel is advising that HIV tests for all people ages 15-64 become part of routine medical care. If the recommendations are adopted, more people will have their HIV tests covered by Medicare and private insurance, as it will be required coverage.

The LA Times explains:

The recommendations, which would apply to all but very-low-risk populations, are a clear shift toward broader testing for HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. The task force’s 2005 guidelines suggested routine HIV screening only for adolescents and adults at increased risk, including men who have sex with men, injection drug users, people who trade sex for drugs and those who have multiple sexual partners.

A landmark clinical trial last year involving 1,763 couples, most of them heterosexual, showed that when HIV-positive partners were treated early with antiretroviral medications, transmission of the virus to uninfected partners was reduced by 96%.

The 15-to-64 age range was suggested for such tests — which could be offered to patients visiting their doctors or hospitals for any reason — because government health statistics show this would capture the majority of Americans who contract the virus every year, Owens said.

Still, he added, ‘We want to emphasize that the best way to reduce HIV-related disease and death is to avoid getting infected in the first place.'”

What do you think? Should HIV testing become routine? How about mandatory coverage by most (if not all) health insurance plans?

For now, free HIV testing is available, should you need it. Testing is easy, safe and confidential—and isn’t it better to know?

Find FREE HIV TESTING sites here, via the CDC.


Image courtesy of Flickr/Neeta Lind

About Joanna Schroeder

Joanna Schroeder is a feminist writer and editor with a special focus in issues facing raising boys and gender in the media. Her work has appeared on Redbook, Yahoo!, xoJane,,, and more. She and her husband are outdoor sports enthusiasts raising very active sons. She is currently co-editing a book of essays for boys and young men with author and advocate Jeff Perera. Follow her shenanigans on Twitter.


  1. Yes, I would say it (HIV) should be routine.

    However, why not make testing for STDs and STIs routine, especially genital herpes?

    The problem is many of these carriers are small in number but are infecting many people.

  2. I keep reading this piece and I keep coming back to just one word that has a real connection to jerky knees. “Routine”. On it’s own it’s rational, sensible and oh so positive. But link it to HIV and AIDS and I’m sorry, but all that Good Rational Stuff has to be judged against a landscape of routine prejudice that simply will not die.

    Why is it that Routine is good – and when you turn that into Routine HIV Testing it’s just a massive sling shot and it all goes out the window at such high speed?

    I have been dealing with HIV – AIDS from before it had a name (That was July 1992), and once testing was available that word Routine has been getting used ever since – and there has never been anything routine about it.

    Routine testing first came up with Blood Supply and Transfusions – but there was still that issue (on going in many places) that if you is a G.A.Y. male or identified as a Man who has sex with men, you is routinely barred. Routine testing has still not stopped the issues there – and it’s odd because if you are a hetro and admit to having sex with a known intravenous drug user you actually represent a higher risk and not just with HIV but a whole host of nasties that are not only incurable but also Untreatable.

    Routine testing by Insurers on medicals for life insurance – mortgages – high level loans – and routinely having to find Insurers that did not assume that gay = danger = HIV = AIDS = Death. Hey it’s a commercial decision to Discriminate, so you just have to suck it up and find another option in the open(?) market.

    Routine presumption by medical professionals that if you were an OUT gay male and ill the first thing to check for was and still is HIV. I’ve even seen doctors expressing anger that the patient did not have HIV, because the Doctor wanted to be medically fashionable and notch up a Diagnosed HIV case on their desk edge. As a disabled GAY man it’s been done to me. The Disability I have is not connected to HIV/AIDS in any way … and I have the 63 Negative HIV tests from demanding physicians to prove it. You only need one test to confirm prejudice – and 63 show just how massive the ignorance and prejudice is. It’s odd too how Rational Argument – I have not had unprotected sex – I’m in a 1 on 1 relationship – both me and partner have been tested we are BOTH HIV Neg … well Rational does not trump Routine Prejudice and Routine Stupidity, even when you are speaking to a supposedly scientifically literate person such as a Doctor.

    After 30 years of HIV – AIDS and activism, I’m sorry to say that the hysteria and media driven insanity and hatred around HIV is still present. It may be lying quietly, a bit like a sleeping dog, but it’s still present and very real. It may not have the capacity to wake all dogs and turn them into a marauding pack – but even alone just one badly behaved prejudicial hound can still inflict significant damage.

    Routine? Routinely?

    For people at risk I would advocate Routine screening – and when necessary for the safety of others. But Routine Disclosure is a bigger issue. Test = result, and then you have the implication that result should be public property.

    When you consider that On a Global Basis Antibiotic Resistant Tuberculosis and Staphylococcus rapidly kill as many people each year as HIV – and there is NO Routine Screening for very deadly and even highly contagious diseases – It’s hard to get HIV, all you have to do to catch TB is be within 10 feet of an infected person – for Staff A it’s a hand shake …. It just reminds me how Routinely Ignorant the public are on health and what is in their own interests, and how useful scapegoats can be to make so many feel better and self secure.

    Science supposedly will save us all – just look at Small Pox = ERADICATED. Drugs such as antibiotics have cut mortality and so many are Blind and ignorant to the Apocalyptic Time Bomb of antibiotic resistance in TB, Cholera, Diphtheria and so many other bugs which used to kill millions and which now are supposedly not an issue. Oddly HIV is one of the best Scientifically understood diseases on the planet, and yet with all that science it’s seen as scary beyond belief, and bigger less well understood monsters which are smashing their way out of the closet are just ignored.

    Routine testing is a great idea, but as has been seen far too many times routine and scapegoat groups cause injuries that take longer to heal and allow anything to be treated or seen as just Routine.

  3. Yes.

  4. Yes testing should become routine.
    HIV-AIDS patients cost a lot of money to Insurance carriers, whether private or public & Anything that may focus attention on prevention of it’s spread can’t hurt.
    There was a lot of argument back in the day about why the same standards for reporting of HIV as a STD were not adhered to.
    For many, not all, HIV is a disease of opportunity just as are cancers related to smoking and dietary caused diabetics own a certain part of their problems- for which we all pay.

  5. Is where does HIV rank in public health problems? More people in the US die from acetaminophen over doses. Mandatory testing for Tylenol anyone? There’s also the issue of privacy which tends to go out the window with such policies.

    I do think testing should be better promoted, along with education.

  6. Oh, I don’t know, how about YES!? Let’s get over the squeamishness and be done with it already!!!

  7. Richard Aubrey says:

    Collin. Did you escape the, iirc, Ryan White plague or did you come along later?

  8. I’ve been getting tested for a very long time. It was a concern growing up as a hemophiliac along with hepatitis. Really though, I don’t see any downside to having a full screening every time I go to the doctor. Better to be too thorough than not thorough enough. It’s why I get checked for all sorts of cancer too.

  9. Richard Aubrey says:

    By routine, do you mean mandatory?
    If it’s free, what’s stopping people?
    I helped out at an accident years ago and a state cop said I ought to get tested for hepatitis and AIDS and whatnot. He does, twice yearly, I paid for two, six months apart, before I found out the health department would do it for free.
    Interesting that things which amount to a pinch of practically nothing in a person’s entertainment budget has to be “free” or they won’t do it.

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