AIDS: proposal for widespread screening of the population
The High Health Authority (HAS) recommends that screening the AIDS virus is systematically offered to the entire population, aged 15 to 70, in order to make up for France's "serious delay", where some 40,000 people are unaware that they are HIV-positive.
"It is not a question of organizing a massive screening in which we would pass the whole population, it is to trigger a reflex, especially among doctors," AFP Etienne Caniard, a member of the Collège de France, told AFP. the HAS. "There is nothing compulsory," he said.
Every year, France records 6,000 to 7,000 new infections with HIV.
Asked by the Directorate General of Health, the report on the HIV testing strategy was to be presented next week. After the revelations of the newspaper Libération, the HAS decided to put it on line Wednesday.
"The major element" that led the HAS to advocate a generalization of screening is the finding of "a significant delay," said Mr. Caniard. "People very often find out that they are HIV-positive, which poses huge individual and collective problems," he said.
This delay deprives them of access to effective treatments and exposes others to a significant risk of contamination, while treatments can lower the viral load and reduce contamination.
Populations identified as at risk are not the most concerned by the delay in screening, said Mr. Caniard. These are "people who are married, have children, are of a certain age, who may have practices that lead them to take risks, but who do not consider themselves to be at risk and therefore neglect the screening process. ".
At the same time, the HAS recommends to "amplify and better organize systematic screening for at-risk populations": men who have sex with men, heterosexual men with multiple partners, injecting drug users, people from high-risk areas prevalence like Sub-Saharan Africa or the Caribbean ...
Françoise Barré-Sinoussi, Nobel Prize in Medicine 2008, declared herself "in favor of voluntary testing, as long as it is not mandatory and based on accountability". "We feel empowered if we explain things to you," she told AFP on the sidelines of the International HIV Vaccine Conference in Paris.
A favorable opinion also from Jean-François Delfraissy, Director General of the National Agency for Research on AIDS, who estimated on France-Inter that "we must take into account the heterogeneity of the epidemic in France".
"Clearly, we have to move on screening proposals," he said, citing rapid screening tests or "screening proposals that are made by the community itself."
Asked about the risk of stigmatization, Mr. Caniard noted that "it still exists, but in a slightly different way from what we have seen". "When faced with an epidemic that was largely unanswered, the risk of stigmatization was much greater than it is today," he said.
"We continue to recommend all the precautions for screening around HIV: confidentiality, respect for the person," he said.
The HAS is an organization that makes recommendations, the decision-making being the responsibility of the Ministry of Health.