HIV testing makes slow strides

People need to stop letting themselves and others ignore the problem.

Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention established a new guideline regarding HIV testing. Now, the CDC recommends that those aged 13-64 should be tested. Even though the test will still be issued voluntarily, this is a large leap forward in the fight against AIDS. However, health officials could be doing more in progression toward diagnosing the many people that are living with HIV unknowingly.

Simply asking patients if they would like an HIV test at their annual checkup will indeed increase the number of people who have been tested, but many might get caught off-guard and say “no” in embarrassment or confusion. There will be those who just don’t want to know even though they have a sexual history and haven’t been tested before.

Thus, it should be policy that health care providers test all people who are or have been sexually active. Why not? Doctors are already drawing blood from patients to test for other things such as cholesterol levels. Treatment ultimately is more successful the earlier HIV is detected, as it can be years after infection before the virus progresses into AIDS.

If health officials cannot require the test, they should require doctors and other test facilitators to strongly urge their patients to get tested.

It is estimated that 2,500 people don’t know they are infected with HIV in Minnesota alone. There are more than 5,000 diagnosed infections.

Allowing a person who is unknowingly infected with HIV the chance to slip in and out of a doctor’s office without being tested only deepens the tragic impact that HIV and AIDS has on the world.

There is one way that the citizens of our country and the world will be able to reduce the continuously increasing devastation that HIV and AIDS is inflicting. People need to stop letting themselves and others ignore the problem.