Petition to the CDC :: Universal HIV testingThis is a draft of the petition being prepared to send to the CDC asking that official policy be changed to recommend HIV testing for all sexually active adults, of any age.
In efforts to control the HIV pandemic, adults older than 64 represent an important but largely ignored cohort. Exclusion of those over 64 from CDC routine HIV testing recommendations exacerbates known vulnerabilities in our fight against HIV. Extending the recommended age for routine testing to all sexually active adults can be expected, by the CDCs own criteria, to provide immediate benefit:
✖ Expand prevention efforts. Testing is the essential first step in helping people with HIV to medical care and ongoing support to help them establish and maintain safer behaviors.
✖ Contain risk, especially among women in heterosexual relationships. Studies show that once people learn they are HIV-infected, most take steps to protect their partners.
✖ Enable early diagnosis of HIV infection among a population in which a high proportion of diagnoses occur only at the onset of end-stage AIDS.
✖ Increase chances of survival. Those diagnosed late in the course of infection cannot fully benefit from life-extending treatments. In addition, complications of aging, including diabetes and coronary disease, must be managed differently in the HIV-positive patient.
Statistics are not readily available in relation to HIV infection over 64; only recently has the NIH taken initiatives to expand research in this area. In the absence of data, clinical observation indicates that HIV among elders is an increasing problem.
✖ Studies in New York City in 2007 show that 12% of active HIV cases and 12% of new diagnoses were in those over 64.
✖ Expanded nationwide, 28,000 people over 64 may be unknowingly infected.
✖ As people over 50 come in the next few years to comprise over half the total HIV-infected population, the situation will only worsen.
As increased use of erectile dysfunction drugs increases the opportunity for HIV infection among elders, it seems counter-productive to support the common fallacy that older people are not at risk for HIV infection by exempting older Americans from HIV testing recommendations.
We therefore call upon the CDC to immediately expand routine HIV testing recommendations to include all sexually active adults.
Jim Campbell, Chair
and the directors + volunteers at NEAHOF