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Testing, Testing, HIV ...

By Jocelyn Geboy in News on Sep 22, 2006 4:30PM

We can't hide the fact that we're a little bit of a conspiracy theorist. We aren't for a national ID card. We aren't into biometrics. We don't feel it necessary to give up all our personal info so we can get the equivalent of an airport speedpass.

So, we can't help but be a little skeptical of the CDC's new recommendation that everyone between the ages of 13-64 get an HIV test. On the surface, our brains say, "That seems like a really good idea. It would help people stay informed about their health and prevent needless spreading of a really deadly/crazy virus."

However, our internal instinct bells are going off like crazy. First of all, our first clue is that the story we read only talks about the pros and cons of this idea in terms of cold hard cash. What will it cost in dollars to implement this procedure? Right. Cause that's what really matters to the insurance companies. Not whether this information could be used against someone or whether the information could be compromised in some way. God knows there's not a laptop with sensitive information lost or stolen on a regular basis.

Also there's the question of what happens if someone is found to be positive. What will be done with that information? Will the doctor be forced to release it? To the insurance company? To the families? To other partners? To law enforcement? To a national registry? To the government? Will there be a database of HIV positive individuals so that when the person comes into the hospital, a symbol or warning will register on their records? Will they forever be subject to denial by insurance companies?

There are already conditions (e.g. cancer, manic-depression) that put someone that classify someone as "uninsurable" and they must be put into a state risk pool if they wish to purchase private insurance, and getting an HIV positive result would seem like it would take you to the top of the list.

We know there's plenty of reasons this makes sense. But there are already guidelines in place for being tested -- "routine testing for those at high-risk for catching the virus, such as intravenous drug users and gay men, and for hospitals and certain other institutions serving areas where HIV is common. It [the CDC] also recommended testing for all pregnant women." And of course you silly gooses who went and had too many drinks and got a little crazy without the protection. We don't think there's anything wrong with getting tested every six months if you're a little loosy-goosy, but to suggest that we all get tested seems sketchy to us, even though we can't quite put our finger on why*.

*Oh. Maybe because on a final read-through of the story, we saw that the normal consent forms and pre-test counseling one normally receives for an HIV test would be replaced by the consent being included in the standard consent form for a clinic/hospital. You know the one that's huge/long/detailed and really hard to read. The one probably no one reads but us. Which starts to look like people being tested without their consent. Which is why the ALCU is all pissed off.

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