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Exploring Human Potential

HIV – Still Going Strong in the U.S.

Posted on | November 20, 2008 | No Comments

Testing is essentialThink we have the upper hand on HIV in the U.S.? Think again. The Forum for Collaborative HIV Research will be convening leaders in the field this month to get the word out. In their words, here are the facts:

“Nearly 60,000 Americans were infected with HIV last year, and some 250,000 people do not know it.  More than one in five people with HIV remain unaware of their status, fail to get life-extending medical help, and many unwittingly spread the virus contributing to more than one-third of all new infections.  A key prevention tool is routine testing of all people aged 13-64, as recommended by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2006. Two years later, while initial successes show the potentially powerful impact of routine testing, major barriers stand in the way of making it the nationwide norm.

Convened by the Forum for Collaborative HIV Research on November 20-21 in Arlington, VA, the Summit this month will bring together hundreds of leading HIV experts, health care providers and policymakers to share new findings and identify the national policy changes needed to make routine testing a reality. As the incoming Obama Administration looks to overhaul health and AIDS policy, the Summit will give new ideas for a revamped national AIDS strategy, including how to expand HIV testing in health care settings around the country.

Experts will be live blogging from the sessions.  The association has also posted on YouTube an interview with Christopher Barnhill from Washington, D.C.’s MetroTeen AIDS, which goes to college campuses to persuade students to learn about their status. Barnhill, 21, tested positive when he was 16. He had been infected at birth, but didn’t know it until he took the test.  You can watch the video. It’s well worth a look.

As I wrote in 2006, progress has stalled in HIV. Let’s hope that the upcoming conference re-energizes and re-focuses our attention.

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