HIV Testing Should Be Expanded Nationwide

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture
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The "fear factor" regarding HIV testing at the "dawn of the AIDS scourge" more than 20 years ago "hamstrung a valuable tool in containing" the epidemic in the U.S., a San Francisco Chronicle editorial says.

People who receive HIV diagnoses "can be treated with life-extending drugs, which carry the added plus of limiting transmission," the editorial says, adding that "informed patient[s] will be less likely to pass on the virus." The editorial says that it "makes sense" for HIV screening to "be a routine part of medical exams" because if the virus is caught "early," patients and their partners will "benefit."

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According to the editorial, this "commonsense idea already has traction in California, where health insurers are now obliged to cover testing under a law signed in October." In addition, a new policy in San Francisco in which doctors "switched from written consent for [HIV] screening to oral request, a speeded-up process that boosted testing and turned up more" HIV-positive patients.

However, such policies "aren't in place everywhere," the editorial says, adding that of the estimated one million HIV-positive people nationwide, it is "especially troubling and challenging" that about 250,000 are not aware of their HIV-positive status. "It's time to push for a federal policy -- and serious Washington money -- to make testing work," the editorial says, concluding, "Setting the right example here will also help in the global fight to curb the AIDS epidemic" (San Francisco Chronicle, 12/15).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, search the archives, and sign up for email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email . The Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. © 2007 Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.

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