New York City Increases HIV Testing in Clinics, Jails, Hospitals by Nearly 50%
New York City has increased the number of HIV tests administered in health clinics, jails and hospitals by nearly 50% in the last year as part of a campaign launched in 2004 by Mayor Michael Bloomberg (R) to incorporate HIV testing into routine health exams, officials said Monday, the New York Times reports. The city's Health and Hospitals Corporation tested 92,000 people for HIV through June 30, an increase from 58,000 people the previous year, according to the Times. The city's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene tested 52,000 people for HIV from 2005 through 2006 in its 10 sexually transmitted infection clinics, up from 42,000 people the previous year. The department from 2005 through 2006 also screened 29,000 prisoners at Rikers Island jail complex for HIV, compared with 17,000 in 2004 and 5,000 in 2003, the Times reports (Perez-Pena, New York Times, 10/3). In addition, HHC in 2006 identified 1,514 patients as HIV-positive, compared with 720 in 2005, according to the New York Post. Eighty-two percent of the people tested last year were women, and 90% were blacks and Latinos, the Post reports (Campanile, New York Post, 10/3). "The big change here has been we're trying to move toward normalizing the testing by offering it in other settings -- in inpatient units, in emergency departments and in select outpatient clinics," Alan Aviles, president of HHC, said. In some city hospitals, up to 4% of the people tested were found to be HIV-positive, according to the Times. The "steep" increase in HIV testing was aided by the use of rapid HIV tests that can produce results in minutes and by the adoption of a state rule that eliminates some pretest counseling requirements, the Times reports. However, the increase, "sharp as it is, indicates how remote such goals remain," according to the Times. Agencies in one year tested 173,000 people for HIV in a city with more than eight million residents, and officials remain unclear how many people are tested by private hospitals, physicians or community groups, which must report only the number of HIV-positive people they identify (New York Times, 10/3). HHC over the next year plans to test 150,000 people (New York Post, 10/3).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.