Despite legislative, medical and social barriers, there have been some successes. They include a voluntary rapid HIV testing program in New York City jails that increased testing from 6,500 to 25,000 inmates between 2004 and 2006. And a Chicago hospital added two health educators to its emergency room, offering rapid testing to patients admitted for medical services. Over 15 months, nearly 2,000 patients were tested, and 15 percent were confirmed HIV-positive. They were set up with care, according to a conference news release.
"I tested positive for HIV 20 years ago and, as a result, have had the opportunity to live a better life and a longer life," said Deadra Lawson Smith, a member of the Living Quilt Project and a community liaison/peer advocate with the South Carolina HIV/AIDS Council.
"People think knowing your status changes your life. It does change your life, but it doesn't change anything else. If you're a mother, you're still a mother. If you're a grandmother, you're still a grandmother. If you're an employee, you're still an employee. If you're a voter, you're still a voter," she said.
To learn more visit the Forum for Collaborative HIV Research.
SOURCES: Nov. 20, 2008, teleconference with John Bartlett, M.D., professor of medicine, division of infectious diseases, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine; Veronica Miller, Ph.D., executive director, Forum for Collaborative HIV Research; Kevin Fenton, M.D., director, National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD and TB Prevention, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Richard Rothman, M.D., Johns Hopkins University; Deadra Lawson Smith, Living Quilt project member and community liaison/peer advocate, South Carolina HIV/AIDS Council