Oklahoma To Stop Providing Supplies, Services to HIV Testing Clinics Without State Contracts
The Oklahoma State Department of Health beginning next month plans to stop providing HIV testing supplies and laboratory services to clinics that do not have state contracts, the Associated Press reports. HIV/AIDS advocates say that as many as 28 HIV testing clinics would be affected by the decision, but the health department will continue to provide support for five clinics -- three in Oklahoma City and two in Tulsa. The department has said that the move is part of an effort to meet CDC funding guidelines and "clean up years of inconsistent record keeping," according to the Associated Press. "We know who our contractors are, and we know exactly what they do," Bill Pierson, the health department's chief of HIV and sexually transmitted disease services, said, adding, "The rest was just kind of a wild card." Representatives from some of the affected HIV testing clinics said they are searching for other sources of funding or will work with testing sites that continue to receive state support, according to the Associated Press. However, some of the clinics might have to begin charging for HIV tests that they were offering at no cost. "There are a lot of people infected (with HIV) who haven't been tested," Janice Nichols of AIDS Coalition of Tulsa said, adding, "By shutting down these test sites and limiting the number of places where people can get tested, I am worried we will see a decline in testing." Pierson said that the health department is not closing any testing sites. As of Sept. 30, the state had recorded 2,674 HIV cases and 4,302 AIDS cases, according to the health department (Associated Press, 11/21).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.