HIV/AIDS Advocates Voice Concerns About Routine HIV Testing in Developing Countries
Expanding routine HIV testing in developing countries hardest hit by HIV/AIDS is an essential step in fighting the spread of the pandemic, but it could have negative consequences if it is not accompanied by comprehensive counseling and treatment services, some HIV/AIDS advocates said Wednesday at the XVI International AIDS Conference in Toronto, AFP/Breitbart.com reports (AFP/Breitbart.com, 8/16). "Scaling up HIV testing isn't a simple matter, and especially for women, and HIV-positive women know this very well," Mary Robinson, former president of Ireland and patron of the International Community of Women Living with HIV/AIDS, said at the conference (Ubelacker, CP/CBCNews, 8/16). She added, "Women really don't know what is ahead if they sense that they may be in fact infected. It's terribly fearful. They don't know there may be awful consequences. They need to sit down and be listened to. They need time." Robinson, who served as former U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, also said, "I see the counseling before testing ... as being about dignity, as [being] about rights," adding, "Otherwise you are treating people almost like cattle." Kevin De Cock, director of the World Health Organization's Department of HIV/AIDS, said that enabling physicians to perform routine HIV testing could help control the epidemic (AFP/Breitbart.com, 8/16). Joe Amon, director of HIV/AIDS programs at Human Rights Watch, said that issues related to routine HIV testing are causing increasing tension between health experts and people in communities affected by HIV/AIDS. "The testing creates a moment when there can either be trust and a relationship with health care provision, or it can be a moment when people are turned away or they don't want to come back," Amon said, adding, "And that's why it's critical that there be counseling and there be an opportunity to build a relationship for chronic disease care over the long term" (CP/CBCNews, 8/16).
Kaisernetwork.org is serving as the official webcaster of the conference. View the guide to coverage and all webcasts, interviews and a daily video round up of conference highlights at http://www.kaisernetwork.org/aids2006.