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Despite national guidelines, private insurers, ER, federal and state agencies fail to routinely test for HIV
Date:11/20/2008

WASHINGTON, DC (November 20, 2008) While the U.S. AIDS epidemic simmers largely unnoticed by most Americans, a failure to widely implement routine HIV testing continues to fuel its spread, HIV researchers and experts said today. Almost 60,000 Americans were infected with HIV last year, and, nationwide, 50-to-70 percent of new sexually transmitted infections are spread by people who do not know they are infected. Guidelines issued two years ago by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend that all Americans ages 13-64 be routinely tested in all healthcare settings. Now, data show that although such testing could save years of healthy life and limit the spread of HIV, they are largely not being implemented.

"With HIV, ignorance is not bliss. Those who are unaware of their infection cannot seek treatment, and are at least three times more likely to transmit the virus," said Dr. Veronica Miller, director of the Forum for Collaborative HIV Research. "Two years after the CDC recommended routine testing, initial successes show its potentially powerful impact, but major barriers keep it from being the national norm."

The Forum for Collaborative HIV Research convened a national summit on November 19-21, at which some 300 leading HIV researchers, health care providers, and policymakers shared new data on the advances and barriers to early, routine HIV testing, considered a key to slowing the US epidemic which now encompasses more than 1.1 million Americans living with HIV.

New Testing Data Show Missed Opportunity as HIV Spreads in U.S. New data show that prior to 2006, Emergency Rooms (ERs) tested patients for HIV at a rate of just 3.2 per 1,000 visits (or .32 percent). Of 2.8 million ER tests performed over 12 years, six percent were HIV positive much higher than the national average of 0.17 percent of AIDS cases in the general U.S. population. Since then, the situation has improved only minimally, with som
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Contact: Katy Lenard
klenard@burnesscommunications.com
202-494-2584
Forum for Collaborative HIV Research
Source:Eurekalert

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