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IN PRINT: Updating the HIV-Testing Guidelines — A Modest Change with Major Consequences February 2013

Updating the HIV-Testing Guidelines — A Modest Change with Major Consequences

Published in the New England Journal of Medicine

By Erika G. Martin and Bruce R. Schackman

Erika G. Martin

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Erika G. Martin is an Institute Fellow and an assistant professor at the Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy. A Q&A with Martin on the USPSTF recommendations is available on the University at Albany Web site

Proposed changes by the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF) in HIV testing guidelines will remove financial barriers to receiving HIV tests, according to Rockefeller Institute of Government Fellow Erika G. Martin and Bruce R. Schackman, associate professor of public health and chief of the Division of Health Policy at Weill Cornell Medical College, in a forthcoming perspective article in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Martin and Schackman argue that while assigning a grade A recommendation to screening for HIV in the general population 15 to 65 years of age appears to be a modest policy change, it will have a profound impact on how HIV testing is financed in the era of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). If the grade A recommendation is adopted, adults and adolescents with public or private health insurance will be able to receive an HIV test without any out-of-pocket cost.

Although this is good news for making HIV testing a more routine medical screening procedure, additional action must be taken to ensure newly diagnosed HIV-infected individuals will have access to necessary treatment. The ACA will expand health insurance coverage for many, but coverage for HIV services will depend on how individual states define minimum health insurance benefits and some HIV patients may fall through the cracks in coverage. “The proposed USPSTF recommendations may remove financial barriers to routine HIV screening, but that is only the first step in ensuring that all HIV-infected Americans have access to the full continuum of care.”

Read the full article on the New England Journal of Medicine Web site.


The Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government, the public policy research arm of the State University of New York, conducts fiscal and programmatic research on American state and local governments. It works closely with federal, state, and local government agencies nationally and in New York, and draws on the State University’s rich intellectual resources and on networks of public policy academic experts throughout the country.