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Routine HIV Testing Recommendations Ignored

Emergency departments, private insurers, state and federal agencies not following CDC guidelines

MONDAY, Nov. 24 (HealthDay News) -- Despite guidelines issued in 2006 by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommending that all Americans aged 13 to 64 be routinely tested for HIV in all health care settings, compliance has been minimal, according to researchers who spoke at a national summit convened Nov. 19 to 21 in Washington, D.C., by the Forum for Collaborative HIV Research.

In one study, Richard Rothman, M.D., of the Johns Hopkins University Department of Emergency Medicine in Baltimore, cited new pre-2006 data showing that only 0.32 of emergency department patients were tested for HIV, but that positive results were significantly higher (6 percent) than the national average of 0.17 percent of AIDS cases in the general population. Only 50 to 100 of the nation's 5,000 emergency departments now routinely test for HIV, he added.

Other studies showed that HIV testing was conducted in only 4.9 percent of private insurance plan members who presented with a serious illness suggestive of AIDS, 36 percent of members who presented with sexually transmitted diseases, 59 percent of pregnant women, and rarely in state and federal prisons.

"The whole point of routine testing is to stop transmission and late entry to care," Veronica Miller, M.D., director of the Forum for Collaborative HIV Research, said in a statement. "But new data show that late entry to care is a more serious problem than previously known and is costing years of healthy life."

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