As I blogged about on Monday, it's been difficult getting primary care providers to start implementing universal testing for HIV. However, it should be easier to at least improve testing for high risk groups such as drug users... right?
Sort of. Although HIV rapid tests are available, and particularly well suited for use in high prevalence settings such as drug treatment centers, the resources needed to provide risk-reduction counseling along with testing can sometimes be prohibitive. That's why a recent paper by Dr. Lisa Metsch and colleagues in the American Journal of Public Health was so interesting. They found that when risk-reduction counseling was provided along with HIV testing in a drug counseling center, it didn't have any significant benefits for preventing unprotected vaginal or anal intercourse.
While that's slightly depressing, there is one upside to such a result. It means that drug treatment centers could implement onsite rapid testing without needing to worry about whether they have the capacity to combine it with HIV-counseling. That's a very good thing. The study also found that onsite testing was a far more efficient way of helping drug users find out their infection status than sending them away to get tested somewhere else.