Canada should adopt routine HIV testing

Offering routine HIV testing to the general population rather than only to high-risk individuals will significantly reduce illness and death, argues Dr. Julio Montaner and coauthors in an editorial in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).

"A proactively deployed 'seek and treat' strategy will dramatically reduce AIDS-related morbidity and death, as well as , and as such provide the road map for an AIDS-free generation," writes Dr. Montaner, Director, BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS, Vancouver, BC.

Highly (HAART), in use since 1996, has greatly extended the lifespan of people living with HIV, making the disease a manageable chronic condition. HAART has been shown to be effective in preventing transmission of the virus. However, in Canada more than 50% of people with HIV receive the diagnosis after immunodeficiency is established, making treatment less effective and increasing the likelihood of HIV transmission.

It is estimated that at least 25% of people with HIV are unaware that they are infected.

The United States recommends routine screening of all patients in health care environments between 13 and 64 years of age. France recommends screening of the entire population aged 15 to 70 years and targeted screening of at-risk groups.

"It is now evident that HIV testing, based only on perceived risk, misses multiple opportunities for earlier diagnosis," writes coauthor Dr. Réka Gustafson, Medical Health Officer and Medical Director, Communicable Disease Control, Vancouver Coastal Health. "Routine HIV testing, on the other hand, has been shown to be acceptable and highly cost-effective. It is therefore imperative to implement and evaluate routine HIV testing across Canada."

More information: www.cmaj.ca/lookup/doi/10.1503/cmaj.121810

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Abolish the criminalization of HIV

Dec 19, 2011

Routine criminal prosecutions for not disclosing HIV status should be abolished, write three HIV/AIDS experts in an article in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).

Roll out treatment as prevention now to stop HIV and AIDS

Jul 14, 2011

The Lancet, a leading global medical journal, published an editorial comment today that emphasizes the critical role of expanding access to HIV treatment under a "Treatment as Prevention" strategy to stop the HIV pandemic.

Antiretroviral therapy as HIV prevention strategy

Jun 30, 2008

The widespread use of highly active antiretroviral therapy may reduce the incidence of HIV in individuals and populations but has been overlooked by public health as a prevention strategy, write Dr. Julio Montaner and colleagues ...

HIV/AIDS treatment curbs spread of disease: study

Jul 19, 2010

The BC Centre of Excellence in HIV/AIDS (BC-CfE) published an important study today in the globally respected Lancet medical journal. The study strongly reinforces the view that the benefits of highly active antiretroviral ...

Recommended for you

Study models ways to cut Mexico's HIV rates

Oct 15, 2014

To address the HIV epidemic in Mexico is to address it among men who have sex with men (MSM), because they account for a large percentage of the country's new infections, says Omar Galárraga, assistant professor ...

User comments