VA Hospitals Fail to Give HIV Counseling When Testing Veterans, Despite Federal Requirement
Many U.S. veterans do not receive counseling before and after being tested for HIV at Veterans Affairs hospitals, even though federally funded hospitals are required to do so, a study presented at a recent meeting of the American Society for Microbiology concluded. Reuters Health reports that researchers led by Dr. Brandon Lenox of the University of South Florida in Tampa surveyed 152 veterans, 80% of whom were tested at a VA hospital laboratory, and found that 50% of veterans received no HIV counseling before or after being tested. In addition, 84% of respondents "believed their HIV testing was not done anonymously." The survey found that about 5% of respondents tested HIV-positive, 53% had "at least one risk factor for infection" and 18% had "multiple risk factors." Lenox said, "Half of the veterans stated they did not receive pre- and post- testing counseling, and among those, 45% were tested at a VA hospital, even though they receive federal funds and are required to provide this counseling." Lenox added, "The first priority is, there needs to be a change in how veterans are receiving risk-reduction counseling," noting that counseling helps reduce "high-risk behaviors." Lenox concluded, "Legal requirements for privacy of testing and counseling should be enforced to encourage HIV testing of veterans and other high-risk populations" (Reuters Health, 5/28).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.