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HIV testing should be routine part of primary health care for sexually active

ATLANTA--Primary health care providers should incorporate human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) testing into routine patient care for all sexually active individuals, regardless of risk factors, say a group of physician/researchers at Emory University School of Medicine, Brown Medical School, and the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. HIV testing also should be offered routinely in emergency departments, jails and substance abuse centers, the researchers say. The proposal for routine testing, which was published electronically February 28 and will appear in the April 1 issue of the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases, is based on a review of surveillance reports from the CDC and recent research data.

Current guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend that HIV testing be based on risk assessment. Routine HIV testing is recommended in settings where the prevalence of HIV infections is greater than one percent. In settings where the prevalence is less than one percent, testing is based on individual risk assessment by health care providers. HIV tests are offered to patients who report risky behavior, such as unprotected sex, injection drug use, or intercourse with a partner of the same sex. Tests also are offered to patients when clinical findings indicate the possibility of HIV infection or to patients who request testing. "For anybody who is sexually active, this should be a routine part of primary care," says lead author Curt G. Beckwith, MD, an infectious disease physician at The Miriam Hospital and Brown Medical School in Providence, RI. "We see people diagnosed for the first time every month. It's astonishing that opportunities have been missed to diagnose the patient previously. Either the physician or the patient doesn't think of it."

The number of people living with HIV infections in the United States continues to increase, according to recent CDC data, and 35 percent of new cases of HIV diagnosed fr
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Contact: Holly Korschun
hkorsch@emory.edu
404-727-3990
Emory University Health Sciences Center
30-Mar-2005


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