Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report Summarizes USA Today Editorial, Opinion Piece on CDC HIV Testing RecommendationsUSA Today on Monday published an editorial and an opinion piece on CDC's new HIV testing recommendations. The recommendations, published in the Sept. 22 edition of CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, say that voluntary HIV testing should become a routine part of medical care for residents ages 13 to 64. In addition, they say that health care providers should continue routine HIV testing unless they establish that fewer than one of every 1,000 patients tested is HIV-positive, "at which point such screening is no longer warranted." Providers do not have to require patients to sign separate written consent forms or undergo counseling before receiving an HIV test, but physicians must allow patients to opt out of the test, according to the guidelines. The recommendations -- which states can choose to adopt and modify -- also say that all pregnant women should be tested for the virus unless they opt out and that women who are injection drug users, are commercial sex workers or who live in a higher prevalence region should be tested again in the third trimester of pregnancy (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 10/4). Summaries appear below.
USA Today: "The benefits of wider [HIV] testing far outweigh the risks," according to a USA Today editorial. The roughly 300,000 HIV-positive people who are unaware of their status account for up to 70% of new cases, the editorial says, adding, "Their own health is in jeopardy, and they unwittingly transmit the disease to others." However, when HIV-positive people "do become aware of their status, they take steps to avoid infecting others -- a two-thirds reduction in risky sexual behavior," the editorial says. "Because HIV can be diagnosed before symptoms develop, finding more infections gets patients into treatment faster, slows the spread of AIDS and saves lives," the editorial adds (USA Today, 10/9).
- Rose Saxe, USA Today: "[E]liminating specific consent and pretest counseling ... would remove safeguards guaranteeing that testing stays voluntary and informed," American Civil Liberties Union AIDS Project attorney Saxe writes in an opinion piece. "[T]esting people without informed consent doesn't ensure that people with HIV get the care they need," and, "[w]ithout pretest prevention counseling, we also lose a critical opportunity to educate," according to Saxe. The new recommendations "also raise privacy concerns," Saxe writes, adding, "If the government is going to collect names and deeply personal information, people tested deserve to know that this information is being collected and how it will be used." She concludes, "Written consent and counseling need not be barriers to HIV testing. Everyone wins when people are able to make informed decisions to protect their health" (Saxe, USA Today, 10/9).
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