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AHF Urges Swift Passage of Rep. Maxine Waters’ “Routine HIV Screening Coverage Act”

The new bill would require health insurance plans to cover routine HIV tests under the same terms as other routine health screenings. Legislation could spur nationwide compliance with CDC's 2006 HIV testing guidelines recommending HIV testing in routine health settings.

WASHINGTON (April 27, 2012)⎯AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the nation’s largest HIV/AIDS nonprofit medical provider, today urged Congress to pass Congresswoman Maxine Waters’ (D, CA 35th) bill to require health insurance plans to cover routine HIV tests under the same terms and conditions as other routine health screenings. The bill, which is known as the Routine HIV Screening Coverage Act (HR 4470), had been previously introduced by Waters during the 110th and 111th Congress; however, it did not become law.

"The 'Routine HIV Screening Coverage Act' seeks to bring national health policy in line with the science that shows that HIV testing and linkage to treatment is the best way to prevent new infections” said Michael Weinstein, President of AIDS Healthcare Foundation. “By requiring insurer coverage of routine HIV screening, this bill should go a long way in helping to break the chain of new infections by making HIV testing -- and linkage to treatment, far more readily available. We applaud Congresswoman Waters for reintroducing and carrying this lifesaving public health measure."

According to the CDC, approximately 250,000 people with HIV in the United States are unaware of their infection. These so-called “unawares” are estimated to be the source of most new infections. Finding these “unawares” and linking them to AIDS treatment, which has shown to reduce HIV transmission by 96%, would drive down HIV infection rates nationwide.

The only way to truly get control of HIV in this country is for people to know their status. -Michael Weinstein

In 2006, CDC issued guidelines recommending routine HIV testing of adults and adolescents in all health care settings. However, lack of coverage for the cost of providing HIV testing continues to be a key factor in preventing widespread adoption of the CDC guidelines.

"The 2006 CDC guidelines for HIV testing have been largely ignored nationwide because no one knows who will actually cover the costs of such routine screening," said Weinstein. "By requiring health insurance plans to cover routine HIV tests under the same terms as other routine health screenings, Congresswoman Waters' bill should help spur compliance with the CDC's guidelines. The only way to truly get control of HIV in this country is for people to know their status. This step will remove a significant barrier to HIV testing. It is necessary, it is way past time, and Congress should take up and pass this bill immediately.”