Conversation with Dr. Valdiserri on HIV and Viral Hepatitis Screening

Content From: Miguel Gomez, Director,, and Senior Communications Advisor, Office of HIV/AIDS and Infectious Disease Policy, U.S. Department of Health and Human ServicesPublished: June 19, 20132 min read


In advance of National HIV Testing Day, recently had a conversation with Dr. Ronald Valdiserri, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health, Infectious Diseases, and Director, HHS Office of HIV/AIDS and Infectious Disease Policy. We talked about the importance of HIV testing, particularly as it relates to meeting the goals of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy, and as an opportunity to screen for viral hepatitis as well. CDC estimates that of the 1.1 million people living with HIV in the United States, nearly 1 in 5 of them don't know they are infected. During our conversation, Dr. Valdiserri observed that with the recent award of a Grade A recommendation for routine HIV screening for all people aged 15 to 65 by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, HIV testing is now the recognized standard of care in the United States and, as such, people ages 15 to 65 should be tested for HIV at least once and those at increased risk should be tested more often. Making HIV testing a routine part of healthcare can help us identify more people living with undiagnosed HIV infection, connect them to care, and reduce their chance of passing the virus to others. These are all important activities that will help us improve the HIV treatment cascade.

Dr. Valdiserri also reminded us that HIV prevention and testing service providers have an important opportunity to help identify individuals with undiagnosed viral hepatitis. Given that we know that these disease conditions share many risk factors, individuals who are infected with HIV may also be co-infected with hepatitis B or hepatitis C virus. Left untreated, chronic viral hepatitis can lead to very serious health consequences, including liver cancer. Better integration or coordination of prevention and testing services will help provide more services to people in need.

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