Hawaii: Lingle Vows to Push for Faster HIV Test
November 17, 2006
At the recent open house of Life Foundation, Hawaii's oldest and largest AIDS organization, Gov. Linda Lingle pledged to work on efforts to implement rapid HIV testing in the state. Peter Whiticar, chief of the STD/AIDS Prevention Branch in the state health department, said in June his division wanted to make the 20-minute OraQuick test available as soon as possible for HIV prevention. But administrative rules and concerns about requirements for laboratories have hampered adoption of the tests, Whiticar and health officials said.
"The work to ensure rapid HIV testing moves forward is something I have only recently become aware of," said Lingle, making her first public appearance since winning re-election. "You have my commitment to make sure this occurs. Now that I am aware, I will pay closer attention and put in a call to the attorney general about this issue."
Life Foundation provides services to around 700 HIV-positive men, women and children and operates the most comprehensive HIV prevention program in Hawaii. The agency has been working with the Department of Health for years to approve rapid testing. The current test for HIV takes several weeks to analyze blood samples in a lab, and many people never return to get the results, said the foundation. This hampers efforts to control the spread of HIV/AIDS, the agency noted.
According to Life Foundation estimates, 2,600-2,900 people in Hawaii are living with HIV/AIDS but many do not know they are infected.
Lingle praised the work of Life Foundation, particularly its prevention efforts, and she urged people not to become complacent about the disease.
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.