HIV Testing Should Be Expanded Nationwide, Editorial Says
The "fear factor" regarding HIV testing at the "dawn of the AIDS scourge" more than 20 years ago "hamstrung a valuable tool in containing" the epidemic in the U.S., a San Francisco Chronicle editorial says.
People who receive HIV diagnoses "can be treated with life-extending drugs, which carry the added plus of limiting transmission," the editorial says, adding that "informed patient[s] will be less likely to pass on the virus." The editorial says that it "makes sense" for HIV screening to "be a routine part of medical exams" because if the virus is caught "early," patients and their partners will "benefit." According to the editorial, this "commonsense idea already has traction in California, where health insurers are now obliged to cover testing under a law signed in October." In addition, a new policy in San Francisco in which doctors "switched from written consent for [HIV] screening to oral request, a speeded-up process that boosted testing and turned up more" HIV-positive patients.
However, such policies "aren't in place everywhere," the editorial says, adding that of the estimated one million HIV-positive people nationwide, it is "especially troubling and challenging" that about 250,000 are not aware of their HIV-positive status. "It's time to push for a federal policy -- and serious Washington money -- to make testing work," the editorial says, concluding, "Setting the right example here will also help in the global fight to curb the AIDS epidemic" (San Francisco Chronicle, 12/15).