April 18, 2015

April 18, 2015
Medicare Final Decision to Cover Routine HIV Testing

Welcome to another day in my life. Today is Saturday, Dab the AIDS Bear and I hope you had a beary safe and great week. Dab the AIDS Bear and I are enjoying some down time with my partner today.

Dab the AIDS Bear applauds the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ (CMS) announcement of a final determination that Medicare will cover routine HIV testing for its beneficiaries. Until now, Medicare has only paid for HIV tests for people who are at an increased risk of HIV and pregnant women. The AIDS Institute has led an effort to urge CMS to make this change in order to increase the number of people who know their HIV status and to bring people who test positive into care and treatment.

Ensuring that all people living with HIV are aware of their status is critical to their individual health and the public health. We thank CMS for taking this step and now look forward its implementation by Medicare providers and an uptake of HIV testing.

There are currently more than 1.2 million people living with HIV in the United States, and approximately 14 percent or 168,000 of them are unaware of their infection. Additionally, there are approximately 50,000 new infections each year.

The CMS decision will bring national Medicare coverage policies more in line with both the CDC and the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force’s (USPSTF) recommendations in support of routine HIV testing. Basing testing decisions on perceived risk alone leaves many people unaware of their HIV status and leads to late diagnoses.

CMS’ decision will help improve the overall continuum of care for people with HIV in the U.S., consistent with a central component of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy. Currently, of all people with HIV in the U.S, only 37 percent are prescribed antiretroviral medications and 30 percent are virally suppressed. Achieving viral suppression is important not only to the individual’s health but lessens the chance of transmission.

Under the CMS decision, Medicare will cover a maximum of one, annual voluntary test for all adolescents and adults between the ages of 15 and 65, without regard to perceived risk. Medicare beneficiaries younger than 15 and older than 65 who are at increased risk for HIV infection will continue to be allowed one, annual voluntary screening. Coverage for pregnant Medicare beneficiaries will remain unchanged.

Hope you have a beary safe and great Saturday!

Until we meet again; here's wishing you health, hope, happiness and just enough.

big bear hug,

Daddy Dab