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Eliminating Written Consent for HIV Tests Might Increase Testing Rates, Research Letter Says

March 15, 2007

Eliminating written consent requirements for HIV tests might increase testing rates, according to a research letter published in the March 13 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, HealthDay News/Washington Post reports. Nicola Zetola of the University of California-San Francisco's Department of Medicine and colleagues compared HIV testing rates before and after May 2006, when the San Francisco Department of Public Health Medical Care System eliminated its written consent requirement for HIV tests. The researchers found that after the change, monthly HIV testing rates increased from 13.5 HIV tests per 1,000 patient visits in June 2006 to 17.9 tests per 1,000 visits in December 2006. The average number of monthly positive HIV tests increased from 20.6 before the change to 30.6 after the change, according to the researchers. "These findings are consistent with increases in HIV testing associated with an administrative policy change that simplified consent for HIV testing," Zetola said, adding, "Because these data are observational, other events may have contributed to this temporal increase of HIV testing." According to Zetola, more research is needed to examine a possible connection between simplified HIV testing consent requirements and increased testing rates (HealthDay News/Washington Post, 3/13). CDC in September 2006 released revised recommendations on HIV testing in the U.S. The recommendations advise that HIV tests become a routine part of medical care for residents ages 13 to 64 and that requirements for written consent and pretest counseling be dropped (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 1/2).

Online The research letter is available online.

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