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Reaction to the CDC recommendations on routine HIV testing

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Testing for HIV should be a routine part of doctor appointments and emergency-room visits for all patients between ages 13 and 64, according to new federal guidelines designed to identify AIDS patients before they develop life-threatening symptoms. These are the CDC recommendations on routine HIV testing during visits to doctor, ER released on September 22, 2006.

While he majority of AIDS activist's criticism of this policy has been the lack of counseling and prevention, social rejection and discrimination, few have addressed the most serious and pressing problem: who will provide health care for these seroconverted individuals?

The CDC estimates that there are 250,000 Americans who don't know they're infected. Once they test positive for HIV, they will lose their ability to obtain health, life, and disability insurance. Who will provide for them these benefits? Could they be allowed to join Medicare? Could Medicare afford them? In a country that is running several trillion dollars in deficit, these are hard questions to consider.

The treatment for HIV runs an average of $3000/month. Who will pay for this? Who will provide support systems for these patients. Who will contact their sex partners? How many divorces, lawsuits, and suicides will this testing cause?

As a physician, I took the Hippocrates oath to "do no harm." Until these questions are answered, I think that it would be a disservice to my patients to follow the CDC recommendations on this matter.
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