Health Officials Should Respond to HIV/AIDS in Same Way They Responded to SARS, Columnist Says
It is time that health officials respond to the domestic HIV/AIDS epidemic in the same way they responded to severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, or with the "same earnestness" applied to combating HIV/AIDS in Africa and the Caribbean, Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel columnist Howard Goodman writes. While addressing SARS, health officials imposed quarantines and isolated patients, which effectively "stopped [the spread of SARS] in its tracks," according to Goodman. Palm Beach County, Fla., commissioners have suggested mandatory HIV testing for incoming jail inmates, which some advocates say "is wrong," he says (Goodman, Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, 7/13). Palm Beach County commissioners last week agreed to ask state legislators to change state law to allow for mandatory HIV testing of every county jail inmate. Under a plan discussed at the meeting, inmates would be required to undergo testing regardless of whether they had been convicted of a crime (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 7/11). Goodman says that public health authorities should see HIV/AIDS as a "public health problem without being paralyzed by patient privacy or fretting about the cost." He says, "Officials at every level ought to be rounding up all the money they can to screen and treat likely carriers," concluding that testing inmates -- even if the testing is voluntary -- is "a logical start" (Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, 7/13).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.