U.S. Health Officials Hold Meeting to Examine Methods to Boost HIV Testing; Experts Say Routine HIV Testing Worth High Cost
November 30, 2006
Nearly 300 U.S. physicians, government health officials and HIV/AIDS advocates on Wednesday gathered in Washington, D.C., for a two-day meeting that focuses on new approaches to expanding HIV testing in the nation and its potential effect on the health system, Reuters Health reports. The meeting, sponsored by CDC and titled "Opportunities for Improving HIV Diagnosis, Prevention and Access to Care in the U.S.," also is addressing how the health care system will be affected over the long-term by increasing numbers of HIV diagnoses. The rate of new HIV infections "has not changed in 16 years despite such great progress in other facets of the disease," John Bartlett of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and a co-chair of the meeting, said, adding that about 40,000 new HIV cases are reported annually. "Equally troubling" is the fact that about 250,000 HIV-positive people in the U.S. are unaware of their status and "are not benefiting from life-extending treatments and may unknowingly be transmitting HIV to other people," according to Bartlett. Summit co-chair Kenneth Mayer of Brown University said eradicating HIV/AIDS in the U.S. will require increasing HIV testing, prevention and treatment. He noted that HIV screening rates remain low in physician offices, emergency departments, and sexually transmitted infection and family planning clinics. "If voluntary, routine HIV testing is to become a reality in doctors' offices, emergency rooms and other health care settings around the country, we need to address a number of social, economic and logistical issues," Mayer said. According to a recent study, more than 60% of people who were newly diagnosed with HIV/AIDS and who have regular access to health care were in an advanced stage of the disease upon diagnosis. This indicates that earlier opportunities for diagnosis were missed, Reuters Health reports (Rauscher, Reuters Health, 11/29).
Experts Say Routine HIV Testing Worth High Costs
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