September 25, 2006
At the United States Conference on AIDS in Hollywood, Fla., minority AIDS activists reacted to CDC's recommendation that HIV tests be made a routine part of medical checkups.
Advocates at the conference praised CDC's call for routine testing because African Americans and Latinos are less likely than others to know their HIV status. However, activists said President Bush and Congress have cut money for prevention campaigns advocating safe sex and abstinence and are not increasing funds to treat the additional HIV cases that widespread testing will likely find.
Phill Wilson, executive director of the Black AIDS Institute, said, "Testing without treatment is immoral. What good does it do to tell people they have HIV if we can't treat them?" Wilson asked. "If we don't spend the money to prevent them from getting HIV, when they test positive, we have failed them."
Federal grants to states and cities for HIV treatment and services have been at $2.1 billion per year for the past four years, despite about 40,000 new HIV cases annually.
"Where's the money?" asked Damon Dozier, government relations director for the National Minority AIDS Council, the conference's sponsor. Dozier urged CDC to consider expanding the guidelines to recommend testing children under 13 and seniors over 64.