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Veterans to routinely be offered HIV tests

/ Source: The Associated Press

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

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.