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    Health Officials Call for Regular Screening of 'Silent' STD

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    The task force also broadened their recommendations regarding screening for high blood cholesterol levels, stating that cholesterol screening should not have an upper age limit. Current guidelines stop cholesterol screening at 65.

    "The quality of data to support screening for high cholesterol in older people has improved," says task force chairman, Alfred O. Berg, MD, MPH, the chair of the department of family medicine at University of Washington in Seattle.

    "Practically speaking, the recommendation may not make a big difference because most people have already been screened more than once by the time they turn 65," he says. "But there may be a small group of individuals who for whatever reason have never been screened before and now we have information that says screen them."

    The new cholesterol guidelines also call for screening young adults beginning at age 20 if they are at risk for heart disease. Diabetes, high blood pressure, family history of heart disease, and tobacco use increase heart disease risk.

    In a written statement, U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson says, "So many of our health problems can be avoided through healthy lifestyles and preventive healthcare. These screening recommendations are an important step in our efforts to improve the quality of healthcare and quality of life for all Americans."

    In addition, the new recommendations state that there is still insufficient scientific evidence to determine whether regular total body skin examination for skin cancer reduces illness and death. The task force reached this same conclusion in the 1996.

    Also, despite research showing that pregnant women with bacterial vaginosis, a vaginal discharge caused by an imbalance in vaginal bacteria common among women of childbearing age, have a higher risk of preterm delivery, there is not enough evidence to merit regular screening.

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