Main | Thursday, June 26, 2008

An HIV Test For Every Adult In the Bronx?

An interesting proposal from NYC leaders:
The city is planning to step up HIV testing in The Bronx, in an aggressive campaign to have all adults in the borough screened over the next three years, officials said yesterday. The initiative, set to kick off tomorrow, will target the estimated 250,000 untested 18- to 64-year-olds in The Bronx, which has the city's highest AIDS-death rate, the officials said.

The borough's residents account for one-third of the city's annual deaths from the illness and one-fourth of all new cases. In 2006, a quarter of the people who tested positive for HIV in The Bronx already had full-blown AIDS, the officials said. "The Bronx has the opportunity to lead the city in the fight against HIV/AIDS by being the first borough to have all residents tested," said Health Commissioner Thomas Frieden. Voluntary testing will be offered at dozens of sites around the borough, including hospitals and clinics. The $12 cost will be absorbed by the city, sources said.
But it won't be easy. Gothamist notes that a major roadblock will be the state law regarding consent.
Essentially, the law has stayed the same since the 1980s and requires patients to "give written permission for testing after being counseled on the process, which many doctors found onerous and time-consuming." An oral consent process, many experts agree, would increase the number of people who would be willing to be tested.
Free and confidential HIV testing is always available at numerous locations in all five boroughs. Put it on your Pride weekend to-do list.

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