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CDC HIV/AIDS/Viral Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update
NEW MEXICO: Officials Seeking Routine HIV Tests: Senate Bill
Jackie Jadrnak
March 7, 2007
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 medical care.

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.