The American Academy of HIV Medicine Praises New Recommendation on Routine HIV Testing USPSFT Grade Change Represents Huge Stride Forward in HIV PreventionPosted: November 27th, 2012 By: Michelle Kipper
Washington, DC: Yesterday, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) issued a draft recommendation in support of routine HIV testing for adults and adolescents ages 15 through 65. This represents a huge step forward in HIV testing and prevention efforts in the United States, according to the American Academy of HIV Medicine (AAHIVM).
The USPSTF is an independent panel of experts charged with making evidence-based recommendations to the government regarding clinical preventive services.
These recommendations take the form of grades assigned to a service, along with practice suggestions. The grade of “A” indicates that the USPSTF highly recommends the service as having a substantial net benefit to the patient, and advise practitioners to provide this service. In this decision, the USPSTF has recommended that routine HIV screening for all adolescents and adults ages 15 through 65 now be given a grade of “A”; a significant change from the former “C” grade. Previously, the USPSTF had only recommended HIV Testing for people who are at risk for HIV and pregnant women as a grade “A”.
“This decision represents a huge stride forward in efforts to identify HIV infected patients early, and to get them into care and treatment,” said James M. Friedman, Executive Director of AAHIVM. “Furthermore, the more routine HIV testing becomes, the more we can help prevent the spread of the disease to others.”
“The grade change will play a significant role in coverage of and reimbursement for HIV testing services. USPSTF grades form the basis for coverage of preventative services by government insurers, like Medicare and Medicaid.” said Dr. Donna Sweet, Chair of the AAHIVM Board of Directors. ”In addition, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) mandates that private insurers must cover all services given a Grade A or B by the USPSTF without cost-sharing. This is a huge victory in the fight against this disease.”
The USPSTF is supported by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The draft recommendation issued yesterday is now open for a 30-day public comment period, after which a final determination will be issued.
The USPSTF also has proposed testing for adolescents under 15 and adults over 65 who are at increased risk of HIV and reaffirmed its “A” grade for routine testing of pregnant women.
“HIV care providers across the United States join the AAHIVM in showing their support of this decision,” noted Friedman. “We also encourage all provider types to make HIV screening routine for all of their patients, in accordance with this decision.” The AAHIVM offers materials and programs to assist providers in implementing routine screening in their practices. Together with the CDC, the Academy developed Referral Link, an online provider referral network available on the AAHIVM website. Referral Link offers access to AAHIVM-certified HIV Specialists and HIV care providers around the country.
The Academy also offers many educational materials on routine testing, linkage to care, and reimbursement for testing, as well as other clinical information on testing in our Clinical Services Library under the Provider Resources section of our website.