Health Providers React to CDC’s Routine HIV Testing Recommendations
Medical providers statewide are questioning recommendations by the CDC to conduct routine HIV testing for all patients ages 13 to 64, MediaNews/San Jose Mercury News reports.
The recommendations did not provide extra funding, causing medical providers to decide whether routine testing of low-risk patients is worth the additional costs.
Dr. Charles Weiss of the Palo Alto Medical Foundation, which runs clinics in five Bay Area locations, said that there is no convincing evidence that testing low-risk patients for HIV would improve their health.
The clinics currently offer HIV tests to pregnant women and high-risk patients, such as injection drug users or those who have unprotected sex.
Michael Allerton, HIV operations and policy leader for Kaiser Permanente Northern California, said that expanding the HIV test from high-risk patients to all patients "may not be the best use of time and resources." The insurer has conducted more than 81,000 tests so far this year, and it has identified 451 new HIV cases. About 5,500 of 3.2 million members in Kaiser's northern region have HIV.
Support for Routine Testing
The California Medical Association in October passed a resolution in support of the CDC recommendation and is encouraging its members to implement routine testing.
Highland Hospital in Oakland is one of the few hospitals nationwide to provide routine testing. The hospital has offered an HIV rapid test to emergency department patients since January 2005. The program is financed with a CDC grant (Vesely, MediaNews/San Jose Mercury News, 12/1).