Routine HIV testing at the VA: Podcast interview with Dr. Henry Anaya

In 2006 the Centers for Disease Control recommended routine HIV testing for everyone aged 13-64. That’s a big change from the early days of the epidemic when barriers to testing were put in place –barriers such as written informed consent plus scripted pre- and post-test counseling. It’s taking a while for the CDC recommendations to ripple through, which is not exactly surprising.

This summer the Veterans Health Administration recommended that HIV testing be offered as part of routine medical care that is provided to all veterans. (Veterans still need to provide oral consent –testing is not mandatory.) It’s a good idea to get tested, considering that something like 20 percent of HIV positive people don’t realize they’re infected.

I spoke recently with Dr. Henry Anaya, an HIV/AIDS researcher at the VA in Los Angeles to get his perspective on the rationale for the program, how it’s being rolled out, and the expected impact.

One topic we focused on is rapid oral testing for HIV, which enables the patient to receive his or her result during the same appointment where they’re tested. The big advantage of that is that it radically reduces the number of patients lost to follow-up.

November 6, 2009

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