CMS proposes covering HIV screening for Medicare beneficiaries

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The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services this week proposed covering voluntary HIV screening for Medicare beneficiaries at increased risk of infection and those who are pregnant.

The proposal "has great potential in terms of saving lives and improving the quality of life for many seniors, as well as beneficiaries under age 65," said Charlene Frizzera, acting administrator of CMS. CMS will accept comments through Oct. 9, and will issue a decision by Dec. 8.

An estimated 19% of U.S. residents diagnosed with AIDS are age 50 or older, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. Many older adults are unaware that engaging in high-risk sexual behavior makes them susceptible to HIV, which can lead to AIDS. Also, many doctors do not talk to older adults about sexual behavior or risk factors that can lead to sexual transmitted diseases.