Massachusetts: Advocates Critique New HIV Testing Guidelines
October 2, 2006
On Sept. 21, CDC announced revised recommendations that call for providers to offer voluntary HIV testing to all patients ages 13-64 in health care settings. CDC also suggested doing away with special written consent currently required for HIV testing to make the procedure more routine and less stigmatized. In a telephone press briefing, CDC Director Dr. Julie Gerberding said the new recommendations are designed to remove some of the barriers that prevent people from getting tested.
Steven Boswell, president of Fenway Community Health, lauds the new approach by CDC. "From the standpoint of concerns, my overall sense about this is it is a reasonable next step," he said. "We have been stalled here with hundreds of thousands of people who are HIV-positive and don't know it for quite some time, and we have been unable to tap that group."
Though Boswell believes making HIV testing a routine aspect of health care will help reduce stigma, he worries about eliminating written informed consent. Patients must be made aware of the health and legal consequences of testing before they agree, he said. "If you just throw HIV consent information into that group of papers people are signing, I am truly concerned about whether that is informed consent," he added.
AIDS Action Committee Executive Director Rebecca Haag said that since the new guidelines focus only on populations already in a health care setting, they do nothing for persons most at risk for HIV/AIDS. "Many of the at-risk populations, people who are using drugs, people in minority communities, do not have routine health care," said Haag.
New York State Law Prevents New CDC Testing Recommendations From Being Implemented, New York Times Reports
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.