New York City Health Commissioner Frieden Calls for Changing State Regulations on HIV Testing
New York City Health Commissioner Thomas Frieden on Wednesday called for changing state regulations on HIV/AIDS testing services to allow health officials to "more aggressively test people for HIV/AIDS," as well as to allow officials to use information they already collect on HIV-positive people, the New York Times reports. Frieden said that to meet Mayor Michael Bloomberg's goal of reducing AIDS-related deaths by more than 40%, the law must be changed. New York City and the state collect data about HIV-positive people, but current laws prevent health officials from contacting patients or their physicians about treatment, according to the Times. "We know people are dying [a]nd we are prohibited by law from lifting a finger to try and help," Frieden said. Frieden also called for "making testing for the virus a routine part of medical care" and suggested requiring only verbal consent for HIV/AIDS testing services, rather than both written and verbal, according to the Times. Frieden "stressed that he is in no way proposing mandatory testing or treatment," the Times reports. According to the Times, city health officials have been working for months to gather support for such changes. Although some community health leaders publicly endorsed the changes, participants at a New York State AIDS Advisory Council meeting on Wednesday expressed concerns, particularly about privacy. However, Frieden has said that privacy will continue to be central to the proposed new initiatives (Santora, New York Times, 2/2).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.