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HIV testing proposed for Medicare coverage

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The government proposed Wednesday to have Medicare cover tests for HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

“This proposal to cover HIV screening for our Medicare population 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 the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Most cases of HIV infection occur in younger people, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that about 19 percent of all U.S. residents with AIDS were age 50 or older.

“Knowing about their HIV status can help patients live longer, fuller lives as well as avoid unintentional transmission of the virus to others,” Frizzera said.

The Health and Human Services Department said coverage would extend to Medicare beneficiaries who are at increased risk for the infection, including women who are pregnant, as well as beneficiaries of any age who voluntarily request the service.

© 2009 Associated Press. Displayed by permission. All rights reserved.

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