Albuquerque Journal (03.05.2006) - Wednesday, March 7, 2007
State Sen. Phil Griego (D-San Jose) is sponsoring a bill that
would ease HIV pre-test counseling requirements in certain
settings in New Mexico. Senate Bill 270 aims to make testing
easier since current counseling requirements, which take about
15 minutes, can be a barrier to HIV testing in places like
hospital emergency rooms.
Currently, most new HIV cases in New Mexico are found among IV
drug users, people (or their partners) with multiple sex
partners and gay men. But they are likelier targeted for
testing because they are considered at higher risk.
Nationally, HIV is also spreading heterosexually and among
people not usually considered at high risk.
"This argues that the strategy we relied on in the past,
testing high-risk populations, is not working as well," said
Dr. Steve Jenison, medical director of the state Department of
Health's (DOH) bureau of infectious diseases.
In September, CDC recommended that routine, voluntary HIV
testing be offered to everyone ages 13-64 as part of regular
DOH would continue to require pre-test counseling for state-
funded AIDS service providers, Jenison said. If SB 270 passes,
DOH would initiate an information campaign urging health care
providers to offer patients HIV tests routinely, he said.
Routine, voluntary HIV testing is designed to help diagnose
HIV infection earlier, link patients to treatment, and stop
forward transmission. According to CDC, around one-fourth of
people with HIV do not know they have the virus.