In an effort to slow the spread of HIV, the CDC is suggesting HIV testing of emergency room patients without their consent. You heard right...without their consent. Many believe that informed consent actually is a barrier to getting people tested. In the US more that 150 people per day are still becoming newly infected. By normalizing testing, meaning treating HIV testing like any other blood test, many feel it will take the stigma of testing out of the process and people will get tested. However, others feel testing without consent means people will get results without any education as to what to do after testing positive. Advocates of informed consent feel it helps people understand their treatment options and gets them into medical care they may not get into if tested without consent. Supporters of mandatory testing say it will help identify those people unaware of their infection. Without knowledge of their infection, people continue to engage in at-risk behavior, placing others at risk for new HIV infections. Many states now require informed consent for HIV testing, however, one of those states, New York, now has a bill in their legislature that would eliminate the informed consent requirement. In a related story, the Veterans Administration (VA) are now offering HIV testing as part of all routine medical care and have dropped the written consent requirement. Is there a change in the wind?
What Do You Think?
So...what do you think? Should everyone who sets foot in their local ER be tested for HIV whether they want to be tested or not? Some would say it would be for the benefit of public health. Others may see it as a 1984 - like policy. What do you think?