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National HIV Prevention Conference Echoes Themes of HHS' New HIV Prevention Initiative
Atlanta -- Findings released at the 2003 National HIV Prevention
Conference in Atlanta this week demonstrate how implementation of the
Department of Health and Human Services’ new HIV initiative, which
emphasizes HIV testing as a routine part of care, greater access to HIV
testing, increased attention to prevention among HIV-positive persons, and
reduced mother-to-child transmission, is lending new momentum to prevention
efforts in the United States.
“In April, we announced the Advancing HIV Prevention Initiative. Three
months later, we are hearing at this meeting of the leading prevention
experts in this country, including the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention, how the initiative can address past gaps in our efforts and
break down barriers to diagnosis and treatment,” said HHS Secretary Tommy G.
CDC research with women of childbearing age shows that reducing
mother-to-child HIV transmission, a major goal of the new initiative, in
part depends on increasing awareness of the need to be tested and that
treatment is available if results are positive.
In two separate surveys of recently pregnant women, 20 percent or more
reported that they had never been tested for HIV, despite a 1995 CDC
recommendation that all pregnant women be tested. Another CDC study found
that more than 40 percent of women of childbearing age were not aware that
treatments to prevent transmission of HIV from mother to child are
available. Knowing that effective treatments are available could motivate
more women to be tested during pregnancy.
“Each case of mother-to-child HIV transmissions represents a failure of
our public health system,” said CDC Director Dr. Julie L. Gerberding. “Every
pregnant woman should be screened for HIV so that treatment can be offered,
if needed, to protect mother and child.”
Other CDC research demonstrates that rapid HIV testing, another
cornerstone of the new prevention initiative, can provide accurate results
in just over an hour for women whose HIV status is unknown at labor.
CDC researchers will also present findings showing that a brief training
session for healthcare workers can enhance interpretation of results of the
new OraQuick* rapid test. Healthcare workers without previous laboratory
experience more accurately interpreted results after a 20-minute training
session than health care workers who had only the manufacturer’s written
instructions to follow.
Also at the conference, CDC is announcing a new national system for measuring the rate of HIV infections in the United States. Using the Serologic Testing Algorithm for Recent HIV Seconversion (STARHS) technology, 35 US locations will be able to more accurately monitor the number of new HIV infections that occur each year and target prevention resources to the populations most in need.
The conference follows the July 18, 2003, release of new guidelines for
medical professionals on integrating HIV prevention into the regular medical
care of people living with HIV:
"Knowing HIV status is a powerful motivator for behavior change," said Dr. Gerberding. "When people know their status, they take steps to protect their partners."
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This page last updated July 28, 2003
Department of Health and Human Services