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U.S. News

University of Alabama-Birmingham Emergency Department to Screen All Patients for HIV

June 13, 2011

The University of Alabama-Birmingham and some 25 other metro-area hospitals hope to reduce the number of new HIV infections by testing all patients treated in their emergency departments. The state Department of Public Health is providing a $1.6 million CDC grant to UAB over the next three years to help support the initiative.

"Routine testing for HIV infection is becoming the standard of care in many hospitals in the nation," said Dr. James Galbraith, a UAB emergency department physician and its testing program coordinator. "This is an effort to identify those who are unaware they are HIV-positive and get them appropriate care and treatment."


Nurses will provide patients testing negative their results during normal discharge. A physician will provide private counseling for patients testing positive, and "our colleagues at the 1917 Clinic, UAB's home for HIV/AIDS care and treatment for 22 years, will link positive cases to long-term treatment and counseling services available at UAB or community-based organizations," Galbraith said.

"These therapies work best early in the course of infection, before a patient actually becomes sick and when testing is the only way to know if the infection is present," said Dr. Michael Saag, director of the UAB Center for AIDS Research. "AIDS is no longer the death sentence it used to be, provided the person infected with the virus finds out in time for the treatments to work."

"Every infection that we prevent and every newly infected patient who gets therapy means that we slow this cascade of infection and help reduce the incidence of HIV/AIDS in the country," Saag said.

To ensure the testing effort minimally affects the normal work flow, UAB will hire five additional emergency department lab technicians.

Back to other news for June 2011

Adapted from:
Birmingham News

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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
See Also
Quiz: Are You at Risk for HIV?
10 Common Fears About HIV Transmission
More HIV Testing News on Southern U.S. States

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