December 10, 2012
On World AIDS Day, a Walgreen pharmacy, the Delaware HIV Consortium, and other groups sponsored an HIV-testing event to publicize a new state testing law. According to Dr. Karyl Rattay, director of the state Division of Public Health, the new law -- which was passed in June -- made HIV tests part of the routine battery of medical tests. The law conforms to the CDC 2006 recommendation, which suggested letting patients "opt out" of the test rather than making them request it. This was the first time that HIV testing and counseling was available at a Delaware pharmacy. Jon Reitz, the pharmacy director, said that the company would like to start regularly offering HIV testing and counseling at their stores, but there are no specific plans to do so. OraSure Technologies provided free oral testing kits for the event.
Dr. Rattay stated that in 2011, 112 people in Delaware were diagnosed with HIV, a drop from 182 in 2005, and by the end of October of this year, 116 people had tested positive. Dr. Rattay noted that state figures indicate there are 1,430 persons with HIV, 2,328 with AIDS, and 46 people died of AIDS-related illnesses in 2011. African-Americans are at a disproportionate risk of HIV/AIDS and make up 61 percent of persons with the disease.
Peter Houle, executive director of Delaware HIV Consortium, commented that making HIV tests routine should help reduce the stigma and make doctors and patients more comfortable discussing HIV and AIDS. The consortium plans to distribute a brochure to doctors in Delaware explaining the law and how to talk to patients about testing.