In an attempt to encourage more people to get themselves screened for HIV, city-run medical clinics have relaxed two of their major criteria for HIV testing. According to the new rule, counseling sessions and written informed consent is not neccessary for voluntary HIV/AIDS testing. All that is required is a verbal consent from the patient.
This rule makes it the first city to have their rules relaxed with respect to consent and counseling. Two hospitals and city clinics that test patients had implemented this new policy on Tuesday. Out of the 6,000 who were screened for the presence of HIV, 240 tested positive for the virus.
Further expansion of the new plan has been proposed by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The main focus of the program is to spot at least 250,000 HIV positive individuals, unaware of their HIV positive status, among the 1 million Americans.
Critics and other AIDS activists feel that this new policy could lead to abuse of patient privacy in addition, the deficiency in counseling would result in more and more people refraining from AIDS detection.
'We hope others follow this common sense approach,' said Dr. Jeffrey Klausner, director of the city's sexually transmitted disease prevention.
'Unfortunately, HIV follows women of color and HIV follows poverty. This population needs testing that is culturally competent, that builds their trust, and of which they have been informed in writing,' said Diana Bruce of the Washington-based AIDS Alliance for Children, Youth & Families.