Q: What's new about the 2006 CDC recommendations?
A: The recommendation used to be that you test people who you suspect has some risk factors for HIV—so if a person has multiple partners, a history of IV drug use or got a blood transfusion prior to 1985. Also, if they have any signs or symptoms suggestive of HIV or if they're a pregnant, those were the sorts of recommendations present before 2006. In 2006, the CDC made the important decision to recommend that everybody be tested, based upon realizing that pretty much everybody at some point in her life has had unprotected sex and you can't wait to identify individuals based on "risk factors." The specific recommendation from the CDC is that anybody from age 13 to 67 should be tested at least once, and if they have unprotected sex or other risk factors, they should be tested on a yearly basis.
Q: What is your message to women in their midlife who might be recently divorced or new to the dating scene?
A: I recommend that people always assume that someone you are going to be intimate with may have HIV or some other infectious disease, because there's nothing that you can tell by looking at a person that says whether or not they have HIV or any other sexually transmitted disease. I have some extremely healthy, beautiful people in my clinic who are HIV infected and doing well, but that doesn't mean they can't pass this disease on to someone else. If you assume that everyone could be infected, then you will always use protection. If you're going to have monogamous relationship with someone, then go down to your doctor's office or to the health department and have an HIV test together and share your results. Then you can feel confident that not only are you not infected but they're not infected.