Summit on HIV testing and 'the neglected US epidemic'; audiobriefing 12 p.m. EST, Thurs., Nov. 20

November 20, 2008

Nearly 60,000 Americans were infected with HIV last year, and some 250,000 people nationwide are unaware of their infection. While initial successes show the potentially powerful impact of routine testing, two years after the US government's Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)'s recommendation of routine HIV testing for Americans aged 13 to 64, major barriers stand in the way of making HIV testing the nationwide norm.

More than one in five people with HIV remain unaware of their status, fail to get life-extending medical help, and many unwittingly spread the virus, contributing to more than one-half of all sexually transmitted infections.

The Forum for Collaborative HIV Research, an independent public-private partnership, will convene some 300 leading HIV researchers, health care providers and policymakers to examine the state of the U.S. epidemic, the critical role of routine testing in HIV prevention, treatment and care, and to identify barriers.

What:
National Summit on HIV Diagnosis, Prevention and Access to Care http://www.hivforum.org/2008Summit.html

When:
November 20-21, 2008

Where:
Hyatt Regency Crystal City at Reagan National Airport 2799 Jefferson Davis Highway, Arlington, VA

Press Registration:
To register as a media attendee, please email klenard@burnesscommunications.com.

An audiobriefing will be held on Thursday, November 20 at 12:00 PM EST. To dial in, RSVP to Katy at klenard@burnesscommunications.com and the call-in information will be sent to you.

Embargoed materials:
the press release, related abstracts, a backgrounder, a live blog and audio-visual materials are available on the science news site, EurekAlert! at: http://www.eurekalert.org/HIV-Testing/.

A live blog will be generated during the Summit at http://hivforum.blogspot.com.

Experts: If you would like to interview a researcher or HIV advocate on this topic, the following are available:

New data will examine:
-end-
BACKGROUND:

With over one million infected individuals, HIV in the United States amounts to a "neglected epidemic" that needs a coordinated national response. It offers an opportunity for the new US administration to help many of the estimated 250,000 people who are unaware of the their HIV+ status to get the tests they need, begin treatment, and make behavioral changes that avoid spreading the disease. The importance of testing as part of a national AIDS strategy is reinforced by new research that shows people with the AIDS virus benefit from starting drug treatments sooner than current guidelines recommend, and can save years of healthy life.

In 2006, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revised its HIV testing guidelines. It replaced written informed consent testing with voluntary "opt out" testing, and, rather than focusing solely on high risk groups, they recommended that all people 13-64 years of age receive HIV tests as a routine part of healthcare. Although studies show that there is high acceptance of such HIV screening among the public, policymakers have yet to fund and implement the programs needed to capitalize on this widespread sentiment.

The National Summit will present data that demonstrate where and how inroads have been made, illustrate the consequences of current practices, and highlight the actions needed to yield a major public health victory in the United States.

About the Forum for Collaborative HIV Research:


The Forum for Collaborative HIV Research is an independent public-private partnership whose mission is to facilitate discussion on emerging issues in HIV clinical research and the transfer of research results into care. The Forum is comprised of representatives from all stakeholders in HIV clinical research and facilitates ongoing discussion and collaboration among these stakeholders to address critical unanswered questions about the optimal medical management of HIV disease and encourage coordination among public and private research efforts.

Forum for Collaborative HIV Research

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