But at the same time, HIVMA notes that every day countless opportunities are missed to identify more of the hundreds of thousands of people with HIV who don't know they are infected.
That's because today HIV testing is not a routine part of medical care. In order to be tested for HIV, a person has to go through a process unlike that for any other medical condition: he or she usually must ask to be tested, give written consent, and go through counseling sessions before and after the test.
"That's a major barrier," said HIVMA Chair Daniel R. Kuritzkes, MD, associate professor of medicine at Harvard University and director of AIDS research at Brigham and Women's Hospital. "Even after years of contacts with the health care system, far too many people will not discover they are HIV positive until they are already showing clinical signs of AIDS. We would identify people with HIV a lot sooner--and connect them with the care they need to extend their lives--if HIV testing was a routine part of health care."
HIVMA is calling on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to release its new guidelines to streamline the testing process in clinical settings, making universal, routine HIV testing a standard part of regular check-ups; doctors' office visits; hospital, community clinic, and emergency room care; and other health care settings.
Routine HIV testing has already proved successful for pregnant women, said HIVMA Vice Chair Arlene Bardeguez, MD, MPH, director of HIV services at the New Jersey Medical School. "When a woman comes in for prenatal care, it's part of the package. We often identify women who are HIV positive whom we wouldn't have found otherwise, and we can get them care sooner than if they went undiagnosed. This appro
Contact: Steve Baragona
Infectious Diseases Society of America