Current HIV screening guidelines are too conservative

March 13, 2013, Northwestern University

Early HIV treatment can save lives as well as have profound prevention benefits. But those infected with the virus first must be identified before they can be helped.

In a new study, two Northwestern University researchers report that current (CDC) HIV are too conservative and that more frequent testing would be cost-effective in the long run for both high- and low-risk groups.

The Northwestern team performed a mathematical modeling study to assess "optimal testing frequencies" for in different risk groups. They concluded screening should be done up to every three months for the highest-risk individuals and low-risk groups should be tested every three years.

The CDC currently recommends annual testing for high-risk groups, such as people with HIV-positive sexual partners, people with multiple sexual partners, and sex workers, and once-in-a-lifetime testing for low-risk groups (whose annual risk of acquiring HIV is only one-hundredth of one percent).

"Our results should encourage policymakers and medical professionals to reconsider how often adolescents and adults should be tested for HIV," said Benjamin Armbruster, an assistant professor of industrial engineering and management sciences at Northwestern's McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science.

He and Aaron Lucas, a doctoral student in Armbruster's group, modeled various scenarios in an attempt to "optimize the tradeoff" between the societal costs of testing versus the benefits of earlier HIV diagnosis over a patient's lifetime.

Their study is published in the March 2013 issue of AIDS, the official journal of the International AIDS Society.

Frequent testing has been shown to be an effective method for identifying new HIV infections. In the past, people with new HIV infections weren't treated until they had significant declines in immune functioning, as measured by the . But there is a growing consensus that antiretroviral treatment is beneficial for all HIV-infected patients, regardless of CD4 count. Starting treatment immediately after diagnosis also reduces the risk of transmitting HIV.

Within its limitations, the Northwestern study suggests that current recommendations for HIV testing are "too conservative, especially for low-risk groups who would benefit from more frequent testing."

Explore further: AIDS journal publishes findings of two important studies

More information: The article, titled "The cost-effectiveness of expanded HIV screening in the United States," is available at bit.ly/13PYGDc

Related Stories

AIDS journal publishes findings of two important studies

March 4, 2013
The results of two important studies have been published in the March issue of AIDS, the official journal of the International AIDS Society. One study notes that screening for HIV should be performed more frequently—up ...

Wednesday is national HIV testing day

June 26, 2012
(HealthDay) -- More than 1 million people in the United States are living with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, but 20 percent of them don't know they're infected.

Canada should adopt routine HIV testing

November 26, 2012
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 ...

New push for most in US to get at least one HIV test

November 19, 2012
There's a new push to make testing for the AIDS virus as common as cholesterol checks.

Many Americans with HIV go untreated: study

November 29, 2011
Nearly three quarters of the 1.2 million Americans with HIV do not have their infection under control, raising the risk of death from AIDS and transmission to others, said a US study on Tuesday.

Recommended for you

HIV-1 genetic diversity is higher in vaginal tract than in blood during early infection

January 18, 2018
A first-of-its-kind study has found that the genetic diversity of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) is higher in the vaginal tract than in the blood stream during early infection. This finding, published in PLOS ...

War in Ukraine has escalated HIV spread in the country: study

January 15, 2018
Conflict in Ukraine has increased the risk of HIV outbreaks throughout the country as displaced HIV-infected people move from war-affected regions to areas with higher risk of transmission, according to analysis by scientists.

Researchers offer new model for uncovering true HIV mortality rates in Zambia

January 12, 2018
A new study that seeks to better ascertain HIV mortality rates in Zambia could provide a model for improved national and regional surveillance approaches, and ultimately, more effective HIV treatment strategies.

New drug capsule may allow weekly HIV treatment

January 9, 2018
Researchers at MIT and Brigham and Women's Hospital have developed a capsule that can deliver a week's worth of HIV drugs in a single dose. This advance could make it much easier for patients to adhere to the strict schedule ...

New long-acting, less-toxic HIV drug suppresses virus in humanized mice

January 8, 2018
A team of Yale researchers tested a new chemical compound that suppresses HIV, protects immune cells, and remains effective for weeks with a single dose. In animal experiments, the compound proved to be a promising new candidate ...

Usage remains low for pill that can prevent HIV infection

January 8, 2018
From gritty neighborhoods in New York and Los Angeles to clinics in Kenya and Brazil, health workers are trying to popularize a pill that has proven highly effective in preventing HIV but which—in their view—remains woefully ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.