Routine HIV Screening to be Covered Under Obamacare
Yesterday the US Preventive Services Task Force released new guidelines recommending that every American between the ages of 15 and 65 be regularly tested for HIV. The Affordable Care Act requires insurance coverage of all preventive services recommended by the task force, which means that regular HIV testing will now be covered under Obamacare as part of a routine check-up.
1.2 million Americans are currently living with HIV - a number which the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention says has been increasing steadily over the last five years. Despite this prevalence, 20 to 25 percent of HIV-positive individuals are unaware they have the virus. There are about 48,000 new cases of HIV each year in the United States.
Previously, only 'high risk' individuals who had unprotected sex with multiple partners or used intravenous drugs were recommended for HIV testing. However, according to the Preventive Services Task Force, up to a quarter of HIV-positive patients report no risk factors. The new guidelines recommend the screening of every American between the ages of 15 and 65, regardless of 'risk.'
HIV screening is an important preventive measure for the purposes of both treatment and transmission prevention. A regular HIV screening that is as common as a cholesterol test will allow HIV-positive patients to start treatment early, while their immune systems are relatively strong, which will increase their life spans. Evidence also indicates that treatment can reduce the chance of transmitting the virus to an uninfected partner by up to 96 percent.
"This marks a monumental shift in how HIV in the United States can be prevented, diagnosed and treated," said Carl Schmid, deputy executive director of The AIDS Institute.
Thinkprogress points out that Obamacare also increased resources for HIV research and prevention, helps ensure the affordability of HIV treatment, and prohibits insurance companies from discriminating against Americans based on their HIV status.
10/30/2014 Medication Abortion Access Threatened by Oklahoma Court Ruling - An Oklahoma state district court judge has refused to block a state law restricting medication abortion, clearing the way for the law to go into affect on November 1.
The Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice, together with a local abortion clinic in Tulsa, challenged HB 2684 in September, arguing that the law was an unconstitutional restriction on non-surgical abortion in the earliest weeks of pregnancy. . . .
10/30/2014 UPS Switches Pregnant Worker Policy Ahead of Supreme Court Case - The United Parcel Service (UPS) is changing its policy on light duty assignments for pregnant workers, even though the company will stand by its refusal to extend accommodations to a former employee in an upcoming Supreme Court case.
UPS announced on Monday in a memo to employees, and in a brief filed with the US Supreme Court, that the company will begin offering temporary, light-duty positions to pregnant workers on January 1, 2015. . . .
10/30/2014 North Dakota Medical Students Speak Out Against Measure 1 - Medical students at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences are asking North Dakotans to vote no on Measure 1, a personhood measure on the state ballot this fall.
The students issued published a letter in the Grand Forks Herald stating that they opposed Measure 1 in part because they are against "the government's taking control of the personal health care decisions of its citizens." Nearly 60 UND School of Medicine students signed the letter, citing concerns over the "very broad and ambiguous language" used in the proposed amendment, which has no regard for serious and life-threatening medical situations such as ectopic pregnancies.
Measure 1 would change the North Dakota state constitution to create an "inalienable right to life" for humans "at any stage of development" - including the moment of fertilization and conception. . . .