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June 26, 2008

NYC to Push Testing in Bronx

The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene has announced a three-year plan for every adult living in the Bronx to be tested for HIV, The New York Times reports ( 6/26). According to the article, the rate of deaths due to AIDS in the Bronx is the highest in the city, at 37 per 100,000 residents. The borough is home to 1.3 million people.

Tests have been scheduled at 40 sites throughout the Bronx, such as clinics, community centers, churches and emergency rooms. City health officials said the city will absorb the $12 cost of each test.

AIDS experts said the campaign is the most aggressive effort they’ve seen. The initiative comes after years of lobbying by city Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas R. Frieden and others to overhaul the state’s laws on consent.

“Routine would mean if you came into the emergency room for asthma or a broken leg, we test everyone for HIV, if they’re willing,” said Dr. Frieden.

The city will issue public service announcements and include information on its 311 hotline. It is also posting tear-off sheets in common areas with addresses of testing centers.

The article adds that some Bronx residents are worried that the borough-specific program may stigmatize their neighborhood. “It might keep people away [and reinforce] a lot of stereotypes,” said Melissa Sierra, 20.

Search: testing, Bronx, New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene

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