New York: HIV Fighters Gain Speed
September 1, 2010
In 2008, St. Barnabas Hospital in the Bronx began offering rapid HIV testing in its inpatient and outpatient units as well as through the emergency department. Since May, tests also have been given at its dental clinic, a natural place to perform the oral-swab screening, workers say. A grant allows the hospital to offer the test at no cost.
From 2008 to 2009, the hospital conducted 25,000 rapid and standard HIV tests, and it is on track to do 18,000 this year. "The more people who know their status, the more people we get into care. We decrease the community viral load and decrease the number of infections," said Ralph Belloise, director of HIV services at St. Barnabas.
The Bronx is especially affected by HIV/AIDS, say New York City health department officials. The borough is home to nearly a quarter of the city's HIV infections and a third of its annual AIDS deaths. Some 106,000 city residents were living with HIV/AIDS in 2008. This number has grown steadily for the past 10 years, officials note. One in five infected residents are unaware of their status.
The health department in 2008 launched "The Bronx Knows," a borough-wide effort to boost voluntary HIV testing. Roughly 75 community organizations, including hospitals, had administered more than 375,000 HIV tests as of June. Of these, 1,275 tests were positive, according to the health department.
Testing rates are rising at other city hospitals and agencies, too. Health and Hospitals Corp., which operates city-owned hospitals, tested almost 190,000 people last year, said Terry Hamilton, director of HIV services, up from 50,000 tests in 2004. Almost 90 percent of the tests it performs this year will provide rapid results.
Wall Street Journal
08.30.2010; Suzanne Sataline
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