Back grey_arrow_rt.gif
WHO/UNAIDS Recommend Doctor Initiated Routine Testing For HIV
By Dylan Vox
The World Health Organization and UNAIDS have set out new recommendations for HIV testing by medical professionals. They have suggested that if health professionals routinely offer to test people for HIV instead of waiting for patients to request it, it will be easier to help start treatment in patients who need care with early detection.
The recommendations come after studies which show that approximately 80 percent of people living with HIV in low and middle income countries do not know that they are HIV-positive.
Recent surveys in sub-Saharan Africa showed on average just 12 percent of men and 10 percent of women have been tested for HIV and received their test results. Millions worldwide need treatment that aren't even aware that they are positive.
"If we are serious about ensuring universal access to drugs, there has to be a fundamental change in the approach to HIV testing," said Dr. Kevin De Cock, director of WHO's AIDS department.
Most AIDS experts believe that increased HIV testing will help, even if the conditions are not perfect. Past studies also have shown that once people are aware that they are HIV-positive, they tend to practice safer sex, which could give prevention efforts a boost. This would be another benefit to these testing practices.
The primary model for providing HIV testing and counseling has been client-initiated where individuals must actively seek an HIV test at a health or community-based facility. But uptake of client-initiated HIV testing and counseling has been limited by low coverage of services, fear of stigma and discrimination, and the perception by many people even in high prevalence areas that they are not at risk.
The UN now advises health workers to test patients for HIV as part of standard medical care, but only with the patient's informed consent. While health authorities would like to see the new UN recommendations adopted as soon as possible, much will depend on whether countries have enough money to implement the plan and to follow their advice.
  icon paper stack View Older Articles   Back to Top