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Commentary

Routine Testing for the AIDS Virus
The New York Times, 9-25-06

The Times endorses a federal recommendation that H.I.V. testing should become an integral part of routine doctor's visits for the vast majority of Americans.

Federal health officials took the right step last week when they recommended that all teenagers and all adults up to the age of 64 be tested for H.I.V. infection when they receive routine medical care. This welcome effort to remove barriers in the way of widespread testing offers the best hope to reduce the stubborn persistence of H.I.V. infections in the American population.

Long after the AIDS epidemic burst onto the American and international scenes, it is a public health scandal that some 40,000 Americans are still newly infected each year; that a quarter of those with the disease, or some 250,000 Americans, don't even know they are infected; and that more than 40 percent of those who find out they are infected are tested only because they are already seriously ill.

Surely it would be better for every infected individual to learn of his status as early as possible, so as to plan the best course of treatment and avoid spreading the infection. And surely it would be better for community health if hidden chains of transmission could be detected and interrupted to slow the spread of infection.



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