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CDC Expands HIV Testing Program for African-Americans, MSM, Latinos
  by Kilian Melloy
Friday Apr 2, 2010
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has tested nearly one and a half million Americans since 2007. The next step in the initiative will expand the program through 2013.
"Funding for the new phase of the initiative is expected to total approximately $142.5 million over the next three years, and will be provided to state and local health departments across the country to increase access to testing and early diagnosis of HIV," a CDC press release announced.
"The initiative, originally designed to increase testing and knowledge of HIV status primarily among African-American men and women, will now reach more U.S. jurisdictions and populations at risk," the release continues. "These include gay and bisexual men, as well as male and female Latinos and injection drug users.
"The new phase will build on the progress of the previous effort and ensure that many more Americans know their status. The HIV testing services will focus on areas across the nation where these populations are hardest hit."
"HIV testing is a crucial step in reducing new HIV infections, so that those infected with HIV can be linked to medical care and ongoing support to help them maintain safer behaviors," the CDC's Dr. Kevin Fenton said. Added Fenton, who is the director of CDC's National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention, "This expansion will help ensure that more Americans have access to what could be life-saving information about their HIV status."
In the first two of the current program's three years, the release noted, more than 10,000 individuals were identified as HIV positive who had not previously known their status. Early diagnosis is crucial in getting people living with HIV onto a timely and effective treatment regimen. Early diagnosis is also important in helping to prevent the spread of the virus. More than half the tests administered by the current initiative have been to members of the African American community.
"Most of the current project's funds have been used to implement routine, voluntary HIV testing in health care settings, as recommended by CDC's 2006 Revised Recommendations for HIV Testing of Adults, Adolescents, and Pregnant Women in Health Care Settings," the release said. "Funds helped jurisdictions to establish the partnerships and infrastructure required to make routine HIV testing in these settings a reality. The new phase of the initiative will continue to make this a priority."
Routine testing has been advocated for by other health organizations, including the American College of Physicians, which has recommended that all patients ages 13 and over receive regular, routine testing as part of their normal health care. The low age limit reflects the reality that Americans are becoming sexually active at younger ages, but that is only half the story: a reported 20% of new HIV cases in the country involve people over age 50.
"Right now it?s estimated 1 million to 1.2 million Americans have HIV, but 24 to 27 percent are undiagnosed or unaware of their infection," said Dr. Amir Caseem, a senior medical associate of the American College of Physicians senior medical associate. "We're recommending clinicians just adopt routine screening in their patients."
"Far too many Americans with HIV--more than 200,000 people--are unaware of their infection and may be unknowingly transmitting the virus to others," Dr. Jonathan Mermin, M.D., director of CDC's Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention, said. "The expansion of this initiative reflects CDC's continued commitment to ensure that far more Americans are tested for HIV, especially among vulnerable men and women most in need of HIV services."
The release said that 30 eligible jurisdictions are now able to apply for funds for the testing initiative. "These 30 jurisdictions represent the areas with the most severe HIV epidemics among African-Americans, Latinos, injection drug users, and gay and bisexual men of all races," the release stated.
This FOA is limited to health departments in jurisdictions with at least 175 estimated combined AIDS diagnoses among Blacks/African Americans and Hispanics/Latinos in 2007. Eligible jurisdictions are as follows: Alabama, Arizona, California, Chicago, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Houston, Illinois, Los Angeles, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, New Jersey, New York City, New York State, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Puerto Rico, San Francisco, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia. Community-based organizations; for-profit entities; public non-profit, private non-profit, faith-based, and tribal organizations; and colleges and universities are not eligible to apply for funding under this FOA.
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