CDC Testing Initiative Will Help Curb Spread of HIV, Needs Public Support, Editorial Says
One "significant area" in which CDC guidelines on communicable diseases have not been followed is HIV testing, specifically the agency's recommendations issued in 2006 that HIV testing become a part of routine care for people ages 13 to 64, a Houston Chronicle editorial says, adding that routine HIV testing is a "crucial step, experts say, in preventing new cases, since the disease is spread most commonly by people who are unaware that they are infected." According to the editorial, CDC is investing more than $35 million in a national testing program with the goal of screening 1.5 million people in 2009. Researchers predict that of those 1.5 million people, about 20,000 will test positive for HIV, the editorial says. It adds that Houston is "fortunate" to be one of the 25 areas involved in the initiative, with four Houston centers participating.
"To routinely test for HIV makes eminent sense," the editorial says, adding that it "takes away the fear and shame that has often accompanied such testing, presenting it as yet another service available to everyone, as commonplace as screening for diabetes or hypertension or high cholesterol." According to the editorial, people who are unaware of their HIV-positive status are three times more likely to transmit the virus compared with those who know their status. The editorial says that the "most effective way to prevent new infections is for people with HIV to be aware that they have the virus," adding that CDC's program addresses "the initial failure of its recommendation to motivate health care providers and the public to accept routine HIV testing." It concludes, "Now it's up to those providers and the public to take advantage of this vital tool" (Houston Chronicle, 2/2).