AIDS Experts Call for Rethink of Testing Policy
February 14, 2003
AIDS experts have called for a rethink of public HIV testing policy, citing new technology to diagnose the AIDS virus that could streamline the procedure and reduce the spread of the disease. In a letter to the Lancet, Mary Jane Rotheram-Borus of the UCLA AIDS Institute and Mark Etzel of the UCLA Center for Community Health said that a flexible approach to counseling is needed due to the new, rapid HIV test. Counseling should only be given if the test is positive or if high-risk behavior is reported, they said. "Local clinics are forced to spend their money on counseling staff instead of needed drugs and treatment. Freeing these resources will open up new services for HIV-infected persons," said Rotheram-Borus. Currently, people are counseled, tested and told to come back in a week for results. According to the researchers, some 700,000 tests are wasted because people do not return. "If people don't return for their test results, they will maintain their behavior, increasing the risk of infecting others ..." she added. The letter, "Rethinking the HIV Counseling and Testing Model in the USA," was published in the Lancet (2003; 361(9357):611).
This article was provided by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update. Visit the CDC's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.