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Progress Is Reported in Bronx 'Routine' H.I.V. Testing Campaign
  This week is HIV testing week in the USA
NY TIMES, June 24, 2009, 11:47 AM
An ambitious effort to give an H.I.V. test to every adult living in the Bronx, which has a far higher death rate from AIDS than any other borough, has resulted in a roughly 28 percent increase in H.I.V. tests, the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene announced on Wednesday, the one-year anniversary of the three-year testing effort.
The campaign started with a push to make the voluntary testing routine in emergency rooms and storefront clinics, where, city officials said, cumbersome consent procedures required by state law have deterred doctors from offering the tests.
The boroughwide testing initiative, known as "The Bronx Knows," has provided voluntary tests to nearly 160,000 Bronx residents in the past year, including many of the 250,000 who have never been tested before. In total, participating clinics, hospitals and community organizations have seen a roughly 28 percent increase in H.I.V. testing since the initiative started, according to Dr. Monica Sweeney, the assistant health commissioner for H.I.V. and AIDS.
The "Bronx Knows" coalition includes more than 60 community partners, including all Bronx hospitals and major community health clinics, 19 community-based organizations, and several universities and religious organizations.
"Knowing your status is one of the best things you can do to stop the spread of H.I.V.," said Dr. Thomas A. Farley, the city's new health commissioner. Dr. Susan Amenechi-Enahoro, of the Morris Heights Health Center, said in a statement: "This initiative has helped us work with diverse organizations to achieve common goals. The collaboration helps us link patients to care so that by June 2011, all of the Bronx residents who don't yet know their status will have that vital information."
The city's Health Department said in a news release:
Some 3,787 New Yorkers were diagnosed with H.I.V. in 2007, and 921 of them were already sick with AIDS by the time they learned their status - meaning they had gone undiagnosed for an average of 10 years. In the Bronx, 876 residents were diagnosed with H.I.V. in 2007, and a quarter of them were already sick with AIDS. Bronx residents account for nearly a fourth of New York City's H.I.V. diagnoses and more than a quarter of H.I.V.-related deaths each year. H.I.V. diagnosis is not a reliable measure of actual H.I.V. incidence (new infections), but estimates derived from a formula developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggest that 72 of every 100,000 New York City residents were newly infected in 2006, compared to 23 per 100,000 nationally. This suggests that nearly 4,800 New York City residents contracted H.I.V. in 2006.
The city is taking part in National H.I.V. Testing Day on Saturday, and has published a list [pdf] of related events.
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