Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report Highlights Editorials, Opinion Piece on CDC Proposal To Make HIV Testing Routine
- Houston Chronicle: CDC's proposed recommendation that physicians offer routine, voluntary HIV testing to all U.S. residents ages 13 to 64 as part of medical exams should be "encouraged" because of its "far-reaching" benefits, a Houston Chronicle editorial says. According to the editorial, the "big guns" of HIV/AIDS treatment, such as the American Medical Association and the American Academy of HIV Medicine, "enthusiastically support" the goal of increasing testing and reducing the stigma "fueled by HIV's current detection and treatment routines." However, a few changes should be made to the agency's proposed recommendations, according to the editorial. In order to address concerns about confidentiality, CDC "should craft and thoroughly detail confidentiality protocols," the editorial says, adding that the agency also should continue to require written consent prior to HIV testing, "contrary to its draft proposal." With these changes, the proposed recommendations could "set the standard for best practices," according to the editorial (Houston Chronicle, 5/21).
- Orlando Sentinel: CDC's proposed recommendations are part of the "admirable goal" of having more people aware of their HIV status, but the agency's "no-holds-barred tack is the wrong approach" to achieve that goal, an Orlando Sentinel editorial says. "Testing millions who couldn't possibly have [contracted HIV] would unnecessarily cost everyone concerned time and money," the Sentinel says, adding that what is needed is "getting more high-risk people to seek testing," not "teens who have never had sex and faithful spouses." The U.S. government should increase spending on programs that aim to get segments of the population "disproportionately hit" by HIV/AIDS "to visit doctors' offices or clinics," the editorial says, adding, "Doctors certainly should offer [HIV] testing to more people than they do now -- but by first asking and determining whether their behavior warrants it" (Orlando Sentinel, 5/20).
- H. Hunter Handsfield, Seattle Post-Intelligencer: Limiting pre-test counseling and informed written consent requirements for HIV testing, as the proposed CDC guidelines would recommend, is a "necessary and prudent step" to get more people tested for HIV, Handsfield, a senior researcher at Battelle Research and a clinical professor of medicine at the University of Washington Center for AIDS and STD, writes in a Post-Intelligencer opinion piece. Counseling and testing are "distinct prevention strategies," and a "mandatory linkage" between the two can be a "barrier to prevention," Handsfield writes. Many people are "put off" by revealing personal information in counseling sessions and often there "simply isn't time" for pre-test counseling and written consent forms, he adds. CDC is "not going into this new territory naively," according to Handsfield, the National Academy of Sciences' Institute of Medicine three years ago recommended "expanded, streamlined" HIV testing. The "anticipated benefits" of such testing are "huge for society," Handsfield writes, concluding, "Against those benefits, the risks are minor and few" (Handsfield, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 5/24).