The CDC has dropped the ball...
WASHINGTON (June 27, 2010) As health departments, community organizations and AIDS advocates around the country observe National HIV Testing Day today, AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) criticized the Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) for its failure to implement its own landmark 2006 change it its official HIV testing guidelines that included the recommendation for routine testing of all individuals ages 13-64 for HIV as they visit or encounter routine healthcare settings. Instead, health bureaucrats at the CDC and in the field rely on outdated, ineffectual behavioral interventions as the number of new HIV infections in the US—now, thought to be about 56,000 new cases each year—continues to grow.
“Having a policy on routine HIV testing is absolutely worthless unless you implement it,” said Michael Weinstein, President of AIDS Healthcare Foundation, which conducts over 40,000 free HIV and STD tests annually throughout California, Florida and Washington, DC. “With rapid HIV testing technology today, the process have never been easier, yet the CDC still relies on useless behavioral interventions to try to address the growing US epidemic. The CDC and other government bodies do not put enough priority on testing when it comes to funding programs. They are not actively encouraging jurisdictions to implement routine testing, or streamlining the testing process.” “The CDC pushes HIV National HIV testing Day, but it is not making routine testing happen a full four years after recommending it,” said Whitney Engeran-Cordova, Director of Public Health for AIDS Healthcare Foundation. “How many people have to become infected with HIV before the CDC will take a more assertive posture with states that will not fully implement its recommendations? How much are we willing to spend on behavioral interventions that are expensive and not effective before we make the choice to prioritize testing and finding HIV positive individuals as a primary and secondary prevention method?”
Engeran-Cordova oversees AHF’s HIV testing program, whose ‘Testing America’ mobile HIV testing van wraps up an ambitious 6-month, 48 state free HIV testing tour in New York City this weekend. The AHF/Magic Johnson ‘Testing America’ tour, which kicked off in Los Angeles in January and has logged over 4,300 tests so far in more that 20,000 miles of travel—is part of a collaborative effort to raise local and national awareness about the importance—and ease—of HIV testing and to challenge attitudes about moving toward a streamlined model of HIV testing and counseling nationwide. This is AHF’s second HIV Testing Tour across the US after the successful completion of its inaugural 14 city AHF/Magic Johnson HIV Testing Caravan in mid-2009.At the time of the CDC’s landmark recommendation for changes in HIV testing back in 2006, a Medscape.com article (September 26, 2006, News Author: Laurie Barclay, MD; CME Author: Charles Vega, MD, FAAFP) reported:
“These recommendations for HIV testing are intended for all healthcare providers in both public and private settings, including hospital emergency departments, urgent care clinics, inpatient services, substance abuse treatment clinics, public health clinics, community clinics, correctional healthcare facilities, and primary care.”
The article also noted “The goals of these recommendations are to increase HIV screening of pregnant women and other patients in healthcare settings, to allow earlier detection of HIV infection, to identify and counsel persons with unrecognized HIV infection and refer them to clinical and prevention services, and to further reduce perinatal transmission of HIV in the United States. These revised guidelines update previous recommendations for HIV testing in healthcare settings and for screening of pregnant women.”
AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) is the largest global AIDS organization. AHF currently provides medical care and/or services to more than 137,000 individuals in 23 countries worldwide in the US, Africa, Latin America/Caribbean, the Asia Pacific Region and Eastern Europe.
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