Routine HIV Tests Endorsed by CDC
April 18, 2003
HIV testing should become a routine part of medical care, especially for pregnant women unless they specifically request otherwise, CDC said Thursday. The recommendations to state health departments, which are not legally binding, form part of a new strategy aimed at preventing HIV transmission by people who do not know they are infected. The strategy places HIV on a par with other health problems -- such as high cholesterol -- for which people are screened once they are suspected to be at risk.
"Each year we continue to see about 40,000 new HIV infections domestically," said CDC Director Dr. Julie Gerberding. "We have well over 800,000 people living with HIV in our country, but an estimated 200,000 of these people do not know they are infected. ... This is an intolerable situation," she said.
The strategy has four main components:
Jeff Graham, executive director of the Atlanta-based AIDS Survival Project, said he is concerned that CDC's HIV testing program downplays counseling, ignores needle exchange programs, and could lead to coercive testing of prisoners and pregnant women. Giving the rapid HIV test with little or no counseling could take away opportunities to explain low-risk behaviors and to refer newly diagnosed people to good treatment programs, Graham said. Marc Isaac, vice president of the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation in New York, applauded the prenatal testing emphasis, but cautioned that women should retain the right to refuse the test for themselves and their infants. The recommendations can be found here.
04.18.03; M.A.J. McKenna; David Wahlberg
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.