Routine HIV Testing Should Be Implemented Across U.S., Opinion Piece Says
"[R]outine" HIV testing should be implemented across the U.S. because the "pathetic" application of tests for the virus is a "big reason" that 40,000 U.S. residents contract HIV annually and that 14,000 die from AIDS-related causes, NBC News Chief Science and Health Correspondent Robert Bazell writes in an MSNBC.com opinion piece. According to CDC, about 300,000 HIV-positive U.S. residents do not know they are living with the virus. The "biggest obstacle" to increased HIV testing is "inertia" stemming from 1985, when the first HIV tests became available and "there were no effective treatments," Bazell writes. However, "antiretroviral therapy has transformed HIV/AIDS into a chronic, manageable disease," and the stigma surrounding the disease now is "far less pronounced," Bazell writes. He adds that at least eight studies have shown that HIV-positive people who are aware of their status are about half as likely to transmit the virus to others as are those who do not know their status. Although "[n]o medical test should ever be mandatory," HIV tests should routinely be provided in emergency departments, hospitals and physician offices to give people the "opportunity to 'opt out' of testing rather than having to jump through hoops to get it," Bazell says, concluding, "[I]t is time to realize that AIDS has become another treatable contagious disease, at least in this country, and we can do a lot more to wipe it out" (Bazell, MSNBC.com, 4/11).This is part of the Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.