Every year, an estimated 56,300 Americans are infected with HIV/AIDS and approximately 18,000 people die due to complications of AIDS (HIV Testing, 2009). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that more than one million people are now living with HIV in the United States and one out of five (21%) of them do not know they are infected. 53% of all new infections are transmitted by the 21% that do not yet know they have HIV – and do not perceive themselves as having been at risk and do not seek testing. While there have been great strides in HIV treatment and public education since the early 1980s, helping patients realize their risks for HIV infection continues to be a challenge for health care professionals.
Linking those with HIV to medical intervention as soon as possible in the disease process is vital to reduce morbidity and mortality, reduce transmission and improve quality of life. Studies show that people that are aware they have HIV also change their behavior to reduce the risk of HIV transmission to others (CDC, 2006). The CDC recommends routine opt-out HIV screening for all adults aged 13-64 in health care settings. Delaware Division of Public Health recommends routine testing of anyone over the age of 13 – in order to not neglect the sexual health needs of Delaware’s senior population.
One of the President Obama’s top HIV/AIDS policy priorities has been the development and implementation of a National HIV/AIDS Strategy (NHAS), released July 13, 2010. The three primary goals of the NHAS are:
1. To reduce HIV incidence,
2. To increase access to care and optimize health outcomes, and
3. To reduce the HIV-related health disparities.
The Delaware HIV Consortium is committed to achieving the NHAS goals in Delaware by providing health care providers with the resources they need to effectively implement routine HIV testing in order to help:
- Break the barriers that health care providers may feel when discussing HIV testing
- Raise awareness of methods that can help increase acceptance of HIV testing
- Enable providers to easily connect HIV infected patients to treatment and counseling services