updated 8/17/2009 11:56:15 AM ET 2009-08-17T15:56:15

The Veterans Affairs Department on Monday began offering routine HIV tests to veterans who receive medical care.

  1. Don't miss these Health stories
    1. Splash News
      More women opting for preventive mastectomy - but should they be?

      Rates of women who are opting for preventive mastectomies, such as Angeline Jolie, have increased by an estimated 50 percent in recent years, experts say. But many doctors are puzzled because the operation doesn't carry a 100 percent guarantee, it's major surgery -- and women have other options, from a once-a-day pill to careful monitoring.

    2. Larry Page's damaged vocal cords: Treatment comes with trade-offs
    3. Report questioning salt guidelines riles heart experts
    4. CDC: 2012 was deadliest year for West Nile in US
    5. What stresses moms most? Themselves, survey says

Under the new policy, veterans must verbally consent to the test, and they can opt to decline it.

Previously, veterans had to sign a consent form and were read scripted, standard counseling information before and after the test. Under the new policy, providers are not required to read the pre-scripted counseling information, although they will still be available to answer questions.

The new policy follows recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which advised that all patients should be offered HIV testing even if they are not considered at risk.

The hope is that by dropping the written consent, more veterans will get tested and, when necessary, receive medical treatment early.

About 22,000 veterans with HIV get care at VA facilities. HIV is the virus that causes AIDS, which is a disease that weakens the immune system.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Discuss:

Discussion comments

,

Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments