California Expands Use of Rapid HIV Test to Four Additional Counties
The California Office of AIDS on Monday announced that it will expand the availability of rapid HIV testing to Sacramento, Los Angeles, Fresno and Orange counties, the Sacramento Bee reports (Griffith, Sacramento Bee, 12/2). In February, President Bush announced a plan to expand the availability of the rapid test, which offers results that are 99.6% accurate within 20 minutes, to more than 100,000 doctors' offices and public health clinics nationwide (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 10/30). The test has been available since August at pilot sites in San Diego, San Francisco, Alameda, Sonoma and Long Beach (Anderson, Fresno Bee, 12/2). However, both doctors and patients have complained that the state has been slow to implement the testing. Advocates attribute the slow implementation of the test to the state's strict testing guidelines and to confusion over how to implement new testing procedures. California has the strictest testing regulations in the country (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 10/30). The tests will be available in the four additional counties by the end of January, and officials from the state Department of Health Services expect the test to be available statewide by mid-2004. State officials hope that expanded rapid testing will increase the number of reported HIV cases in the state and lead to an increase in federal funding to support AIDS programs, according to the Bee (Sacramento Bee, 12/2). "It is our hope that by using the rapid HIV test, we will be able to immediately offer people health care resources and assist them in making decisions that reduce the chance of transmitting HIV to others," state Health Director Diana Bonta said (Fresno Bee, 12/2).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.