CDC: Prison HIV testing effective

June 24, 2011 at 12:40 AM

ATLANTA, June 24 (UPI) -- Offering voluntary HIV testing to prisoners at intake can lead to a substantial increase in testing and a higher rate of new diagnoses, U.S. officials say.

Federal health officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention analyzed data from the Washington state Department of Corrections from January 2006 to August 2007 when the state offered testing for human immunodeficiency virus on a request-only basis.

They compared the data to records between September 2007 and March 2010, when the state changed its HIV testing policy to an opt-in strategy, and again to records from March 2010 to December 2010 when the policy changed to an opt-out approach, the report says.

The report, published in the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, says overall, there was an increase in HIV testing from 5 percent to 72 percent when the testing strategy changed from a request to opt-in, while the opt-out approach further increased the uptake of HIV testing to 90 percent.

"The rate of newly diagnosed case also increased from 1.8 cases per year when HIV testing was available only on request to 7.6 cases per year under the opt-out approach," the report says. "The findings support CDC's 2006 HIV testing recommendations, which call for all adults and adolescents to be tested as a routine part of medical care, regardless of risk, including those in correctional facilities."

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