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AIDS Tests Advised for All in US Age 15-65

An advisory group has suggested that everyone in the United States between the ages of 15 and 65 should get tested for HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force says wider public acceptance of HIV testing could lead to earlier treatment for those infected, and it would further slow the spread of AIDS. The 16 medical experts on the task force are appointed by the government. They examine scientific evidence for and against health care services designed to prevent disease.

HIV is spread through unprotected sex or contact with an infected person's blood. In 2005, the task force recommended testing for all pregnant women and anyone at increased risk of HIV.

Now, HIV tests could be offered as an early screening tool. He says that makes more sense than offering it later when people go to the doctor for tests to find out why they are sick.

An estimated 1.2 million Americans have HIV. Each year about 50,000 more get infected. Up to 25 percent of all infected people do not know they have the virus. But among young people, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says about 60 percent do not know it.

The CDC says one-fourth of new infections in the United States are in young people age 13 to 24. December first was World AIDS Day. The latest United Nations AIDS report says 25 low- to middle-income countries have cut their rate of new infections in half since 2001.

Most of those countries are in sub-Saharan Africa. But UNAIDS researchers say the number of new cases has risen more than 35 percent in the Middle East and North Africa in the last 10 years.

For VOA Learning English, I'm Alex Villarreal.