New York City Correctional Facilities Begin Offering OraQuick HIV Test
New York City has begun offering the OraQuick 20-minute HIV test to inmates at Rikers Island and other city correctional facilities, which have high turnover rates and high percentages of HIV-positive inmates, the New York Sun reports. About 1,000 city inmates have been screened since the test was introduced to the system in March. Although health officials are still determining whether more inmates have decided to seek testing and whether there has been an increase in positive diagnoses, "[t]he answer to both questions is likely to be a resounding yes," according to the Sun. Because inmates move quickly through the prison system, the 20-minute test is ideal compared with the traditional test, which takes too long to process, according to the Sun. "We know that approximately 25,000 people in New York City have HIV and don't know it. It is reasonable to think that there are a portion of them ... coming through Rikers Island," Dr. Farah Parvez, head of correctional public health for the city Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, said, adding, "Given the turnaround time on this test and the high-risk population, we felt like offering it [in city prisons] was an obvious thing for us to do." The test is being used in the 10 Rikers Island facilities as well as the Vernon C. Bain Center in the Bronx. Health officials also plan to begin using the tests in other city correctional facilities. The testing is in line with city Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Frieden's Take Care New York initiative goal of increasing the number of HIV-positive New Yorkers who are aware of their status (Gardiner, New York Sun, 5/3).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.