New York City Health Officials Call on Government To Be More Aggressive in Monitoring, Treating HIV
The U.S. government should be more aggressive in monitoring and treating HIV-positive people and use public health approaches that have combated other infectious diseases, New York City Health Commissioner Thomas Frieden and other city officials write in an article in the Dec. 1 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, the New York Times reports (Perez-Pena, New York Times, 12/1). "[T]he failure to apply standard disease-control methods undermines society's ability and responsibility to control the epidemic," the authors write (Frieden et al., NEJM, 12/1). They say health agencies around the country should monitor the progress of HIV-positive people and notify everyone they might have infected, which is how health agencies currently handle diseases such as syphilis and tuberculosis. The authors also urge the government to widely distribute condoms and clean syringes to curb the spread of HIV (New York Times, 12/1). The authors acknowledge that such an approach would involve "offending both sides of the political establishment," including conservatives, many of whom oppose needle-exchange and condom distribution programs, and some AIDS advocates who oppose widespread testing and partner notification. However, "[c]ontrolling epidemics is a fundamental responsibility of the government," the authors say, adding that until "we implement prevention programs with proven efficacy more widely ... we will continue to miss opportunities to reduce the spread of HIV infection" (NEJM, 12/1).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.