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Health Officials Call for Routine HIV Testing

Federal health officials at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) yesterday recommended routine HIV testing for adults from 13 to 64 years old. The new guidelines are meant to prevent the spread of HIV and to diagnose the estimated 250,000 Americans who do not know they have the disease, according to the Associated Press. While these guidelines will not be legally required by health officials, the CDC hopes doctors will follow them and health insurance companies will choose to cover testing.

The guidelines aim to provide HIV screening that is universal, instead of only testing those who may be considered “high-risk,” as a way to provide early diagnoses in medical settings, according to the Boston Globe. The CDC also recommends testing to be voluntary and done only with the patients’ knowledge of the procedure. Eliminating barriers such as pre-test counseling and written consent forms would simplify testing and allow more health care facilities to provide HIV screenings, according to the Globe.

Critics of the new recommendations are concerned that universal testing could deplete funding for testing those who are at higher risk for contracting the disease. Barbara Murray, executive director of the AIDS Partnership of Michigan, asked, “Where’s the money going to come to do this? If it is taken out of the existing pool of money for testing, that’s insane,” reports the Detroit Free Press. Chief Executive Officer of the Midwest AIDS Prevention Project, Craig Covey, also critiques the CDC’s guidelines, saying that he worries that, without pre-test counseling, people may not understand their test results.

Sources:

Detroit Free Press 9/22/06; AP 9/21/06; Boston.com 9/22/06

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