New Jersey Should Continue Efforts To Provide No-Cost HIV Testing, Editorial Says
No-cost HIV testing "should continue to be available and easily accessible" in Bergen County, New Jersey, a NorthJersey.com editorial says, adding, "Anyone who is worried about whether he or she has been infected with [HIV] should be able to learn the truth as soon as possible and as discretely as possible. The uninsured, in particular, should have access to free testing."
According to the editorial, the Bergen County Department of Health Services is considering plans to close the only no-cost testing clinic in the county, which administers about five HIV tests daily, according to health officials. The editorial adds that county officials say that no-cost testing will continue to be available either in a clinic in Hackensack, the Bergen County homeless shelter or through another program. "While the county must understandably grapple with budget constraints, it is important to continue to have a source" of no-cost HIV testing in the county, the editorial says, adding that it questions "whether the county's new homeless shelter is an advisable location." With no central location for no-cost testing, it is likely that "some people may not be tested until they are much sicker," increasing the cost of treating patients and hindering prevention efforts, according to the editorial.
The editorial notes that New Jersey ranks fifth in the country for the number of AIDS cases, according to CDC, and has the highest rate of new HIV cases among women nationwide. "More than half of the estimated 66,000 people in this state who" are HIV-positive are injection drug users or "their partners or children," the editorial says. It continues that "clearly," the no-cost testing clinic in Bergen County "provides a needed service." HIV/AIDS is an "insidious disease" that "rarely makes headlines anymore, though it continues to affect many people and cause much suffering and anxiety," the editorial says, concluding, "Those who live with it have learned the hard way the essential importance of education, prevention and early testing. Bergen County must continue to offer those resources as easily and effectively as possible" (NorthJersey.com, 5/5).