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Dec 31 2008

State rule changes encourage routine HIV testing

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HIV/AIDS specialists and public health leaders fear that clinicians are overlooking a powerful tool in the fight against the disease: routine HIV testing.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended in 2007 that all Americans aged 13 to 64 be routinely tested for HIV, regardless of risk status. However, there is little evidence that medical professionals in private, federal and state health care facilities are actually doing it.

Routine testing is considered an effective way to stop the spread of HIV disease because many new infections are thought to be spread by persons who do not know they are infected. Some research suggests that up to 70 percent of new HIV/AIDS cases are spread unwittingly.

Routine testing could prove especially helpful in North Carolina, where about 30 percent of the roughly 2,000 new cases of HIV disease diagnosed in the state each year are new AIDS cases. That suggests a significant reservoir of patients who may not know they are infected.

North Carolina amended its HIV testing rules in late 2007 to remove barriers to routine testing. Some of the changes include:
  • Eliminating the requirement for pre-test counseling. Also, post-test counseling for persons with a negative HIV test is no longer required.

  • Clarifying that HIV testing can be included in a panel of tests using a general consent for treatment.. In other words, clients must be notified that they will be tested for HIV, but a specific consent form for HIV testing is no longer required.

Review a complete list of North Carolina’s HIV rule changes at:

Source: NC Communicable Diseases Branch, NC Division of Public Health
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