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CDC issues mandatory HIV-testing guidelines

HIV testing may become a routine part of your physical exam this summer if doctors adopt new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines.

The new guidelines apply to Americans 13 to 64, but they are not legally binding. CDC guidelines do influence medical practices and insurance coverage.

According to the CDC, one-quarter of a million Americans don’t know they are infected with the virus.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) issued a statement calling the CDC guidelines “misguided” because the testing would not be anonymous and statistics would not be consistent as anonymous testing and mandatory testing numbers would overlap.

“For example, one study found that over 60 percent of individuals tested anonymously would not have tested if their names were reported to public health officials,” the ACLU statement said. “This deterrent effect is especially pronounced among those populations with the greatest need for preventive intervention: men who have sex with men, people of color, intravenous drug users and sex workers.”

Gregory Rowe, 45, a psychotherapist who founded the HIV support network Thriving in San Francisco, said that the guidelines can be useful in slowing the spread of HIV; however, it’s important to maintain the level of pre-test counseling and disclosure developed over the past two decades.

“If the announcements are not made with respect, with hope, with informed compassion, and with support for the individual, then I prefer the HIV testing remain the domain of specially trained and motivated testers who really care about this epidemic and the way it impacts people,” Rowe said.