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On HIV Testing Day, HIVMA calls for health care reform to make testing routine every day
Date:6/22/2009

Arlington, VAThis Saturday, June 27, HIV Testing Day, the HIV Medicine Association (HIVMA) urges everyone to get tested for HIV, a vital step in linking people to lifesaving care and reducing the spread of new infections. As Congress takes up health care reform, HIVMA calls on policymakers to do more to make every day HIV Testing Day by ensuring that health care reform covers such screening as a standard part of routine medical care and as an essential piece of a new national HIV/AIDS strategy.

Innovative drug therapies have made HIV a manageable and chronic disease for many people, but far too many patients are diagnosed too late. An estimated 21 percent of those living with HIV nationwide231,000 peopleare unaware of their HIV status. They account for more than half of all new HIV infections and often don't get tested until they become seriously sick, even after they have already been in contact with the health care system.

Nearly three years ago, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended routine, voluntary, opt-out HIV screening in health care settings for nearly all age groups. But barriers remain, including a lack of federal funding to put these recommendations into action. Private insurers and government-funded programs, such as Medicare and most Medicaid programs, don't cover routine HIV tests. Health care reform offers the perfect opportunity to remove these barriers.

"Routine screening will limit the spread of HIV, connect those with HIV to the care and treatment they need, and improve overall public health in this country," said Arlene Bardeguez, MD, MPH, HIVMA chair. "We need to implement the routine testing policy CDC recommended in 2006 now with strong linkages to care. It is imperative that the proposed comprehensive health care reform for our country have this approach as a cornerstone of a national HIV/AIDS strategy."

Studies have demonstrated that patients who receive HIV care and trea
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Contact: John Heys
jheys@idsociety.org
703-299-0412
Infectious Diseases Society of America
Source:Eurekalert

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