Obamacare Will Now Include HIV Testing, Saving Millions of American Lives

Now that Obama has been re-elected president, Obamacare charges on, and with a new public health improvement: The bill will soon cover HIV testing. This news comes after the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force (an independent panel of primary care providers who are experts in prevention and evidence-based medicine) recommended that every American aged 15 - 65 be tested for HIV. Under the Affordable Care Act, both private and governmental insurance companies are obliged to comply with the USPSTF and cover this preventative service.

The Center for Disease Control estimates that more than 1.1 million people in the U.S. are currently infected with HIV, with almost 1 in 5 unaware of their infection. If HIV is not caught early by regular testing (at least once a year, and more if one takes part in unsafe sexual practices), it can progress much more quickly to AIDS, and HIV+ people could be infecting others unknowingly. While there is currently no cure for HIV/AIDS, starting treatment early can slow the progress of the disease and allow people to live healthier and longer lives.

Some states already require HIV testing in primary and hospital settings, but Obamacare will require HIV testing to be included in the preventative screenings that take place during primary care provider visits when testing for breast, testicular, and colon cancer, cervical cancer by pap smears, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.

This is will be an automatic screening, along with all the other blood testing included in your annual check-up, rather than an optional test, as it was before. Some might view this as an invasion of their privacy, but as a health care provider, I strongly believe that this form of HIV testing will curb HIV transmission. In turn, this policy should decrease the number of new infections (currently nearing 50,000/year) and promote a healthier U.S. population.

The problem remains that 16.3% of the U.S. population remains uninsured, which means a possible 16.3% of people with unknown HIV status (unless they proactively seek to be tested).

For more information on sexually transmitted diseases, see: What Do I Do If I Have An STD? Symptoms and Treatment Options.