Texas: Health Facilities Step Up Routine Testing for HIV
January 21, 2009
Houston is one of 25 areas participating in a CDC initiative that provides HIV testing funds to select health departments, hospitals, and clinics. The goal of the $35 million federal program is to test 1.5 million people nationwide this year.
Emergency departments, where large numbers of uninsured go for care, are considered key to the program. It is estimated that half of people living with HIV in the United States have no health insurance. In 2008, emergency centers at Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center (MH-TMC) and Ben Taub General Hospital along with two clinics run by Legacy Community Health Services began offering routine HIV testing for adults. The program will expand to LBJ General Hospital's emergency room this spring.
Dr. James McCarthy, emergency director at MH-TMC, which offers tests to patients ages 18-64, said screening everyone reduces the fear and shame associated with HIV. About one in five decline the test, he said.
"The one thing that the community needs to know is the prevalence of this disease is far greater than most of them think," said McCarthy.
01.18.2009; Cindy George