HIV testing made easier in New York

June 27, 2011 at 7:08 PM   |   Comments

NEW YORK, June 27 (UPI) -- One in five New Yorkers with HIV don't know it but a new law makes it easier to get tested, the state health commissioner said.

State Health Commissioner Nirav R. Shah, in recognition of National HIV Testing Day Monday, said with nearly 130,000 New Yorkers currently living with HIV/AIDS and more than 4,000 newly diagnosed each year, New York is the epicenter of the human immunodeficiency virus epidemic.

"The state's new HIV testing law makes it easier than ever to get tested for HIV when you visit your health care provider. I urge New Yorkers to say 'yes' to the test," Shah said in a new conference at Beth Israel Medical Center New York City.

Under a state law that took effect last September, HIV testing must be offered to everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 who receive hospital or primary care services. The offering of an HIV test must be made to inpatients, persons seeking services in emergency departments, and those receiving primary care as outpatients at clinics or from physicians, physician assistants, nurse practitioners or midwives, Shah said.

"It is a missed opportunity when we repair a broken arm but send that patient home with undiagnosed HIV," Shah said. "For some people, the emergency rooms or clinics are their only contacts with the healthcare system. That's why the offering of HIV testing is important in those settings."

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