Counseling, Testing, and Referral for HIV

Counseling, Testing, and Referral for HIV – Brief Article

Elaine Kierl Gangel

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued updated guidelines for use in developing services and policies for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) counseling, testing, and referral (CTR). The guidelines were developed using an evidence-based approach advocated by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force and public health practice guidelines. The updated guidelines appear in the November 9, 2001 issue of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

The CDC guidelines are meant to be used in traditional as well as nontraditional settings, including homeless shelters and bars where persons at high risk for HIV infection can have access to CTR. While maintaining important elements of the published guidelines, the current edition offers some new recommendations. The updates include the following:

* Providing guidance to all health care professionals who give voluntary HIV CTR in the public and private sectors.

* Emphasizing the importance of early detection of HIV.

* Using evidence-based guidelines to make specific recommendations for CTR.

* Acknowledging the need for health care professionals to be flexible in implementing the guidelines.

* Efficiently targeting CTR through risk screening and other strategies.

* Addressing ways to improve the quality and provision of HIV CTR.

Since the publication of the previous guidelines in 1994, advances in the prevention and treatment of HIV and acquired immunodeficiency syndrome have improved the health of patients receiving antiretroviral therapy. Enhanced testing and counseling modalities have also reduced the rates of HIV-related illness and death. Consequently, there is a heightened awareness of the need for referrals to necessary services, yet many opportunities for preventing HIV through CTR are missed. The newest guidelines recommend how CTR can be made accessible to those patients who might benefit the most from CTR services.

COPYRIGHT 2002 American Academy of Family Physicians

COPYRIGHT 2002 Gale Group