Friday, June 22, 2007

National HIV Testing Day

Welcome to this install of The AIDS Pandemic, a podcast hosted by Dr. David Wessner of Davidson College. I’m Dave Wessner.

June 27 is the 15th annual National HIV Testing Day, an event sponsored by the National Association of People with AIDS to encourage people to get tested and learn their HIV status. Today, I had the pleasure of participating in a Webinar hosted by the Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about this important event.

During this Webinar, we were reminded of the CDC’s new recommendations about HIV testing – all individuals between the ages of 13 and 64 should be tested routinely on an opt-out basis. In other words, testing for HIV should be included in normal health care, unless a person specifically asks not to be tested. The reasons for this recommendation are several-fold. Most importantly, a majority of new infections result from transmission of the virus from an individual who does not know his or her HIV status and studies have shown that if people know their status, they tend to modify their behavior to reduce the risk of transmission. So increased testing should lead to decreased transmission rates.

Of course, there are important issues that need to be addressed. How can we reach underserved populations, including the homeless and uninsured? How can we reach young people? How will the costs of the test and necessary follow-up counseling be absorbed by our health care system? Despite these obstacles, though, the goal of universal, routine testing is admirable. I encourage everyone to get tested.

More information about National HIV Testing Day can be found at This site contains information about HIV testing and has an easy to use test center finder. Simply type in your zip code and a list of local testing sites will be provided.

As the CDC testing campaign slogan states: Take the Test. Take Control.

Until next time, I’m Dave Wessner

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