On June 26, 2012, in recognition of National HIV Testing Day (NHTD), AIDS.gov convened the “HIV Testing for an AIDS-Free Generation” webinar. Approximately 2,000 federal stakeholders, grantees and federal staff from 900 listening sites heard from senior federal HIV leadership from across the U.S. government about HIV testing and related issues. Here are some highlights:
Dr. Jonathan Mermin, Director, HIV/AIDS Prevention Program, National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention, Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) reviewed CDC’s new national data on the percent of people living with HIV who know their status and those who are not aware of their infection. He noted that new generations of HIV tests have improved our capacity to diagnose infection close to the time of infection: “The technology of testing has improved. The frequency of testing is improving. More Americans are getting tested, but there’s also a lot of work to be done…NHTD is an important time for us to reflect that even though we’ve had progress, it is important for achieve[ment of] the goals of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy and ultimately to reverse the epidemic that we focus on this very important nexus between prevention and care – and that’s HIV testing.”
Dr. Caroline Ryan, Director of Technical Leadership, Office of the Global AIDS Coordinator, provided an overview of PEPFAR’s HIV testing and counseling programs. She acknowledged challenges in strengthening service linkages, in quality assurance/ improvement, task shifting and in supplies of test kits.
Mr. Richard Klein, Director, FDA Patient Liaison Program, Office of Special Health Issues (FDA) spoke on availability of home HIV test kits. He explained use of the Home Access ® HIV-1 Test System and recapped the May 2012 FDA consultation on the OraQuick ® In-Home HIV Test with its Blood Products Advisory Committee. At the time of the webinar, the FDA decision on approving the test was pending (click here for information on FDA’s July 3rd approval of the OraQuick ® In-Home HIV Test.)
These three speakers, along with Dr. Maggie Czarnogorski, Deputy Director, Clinical Public Health Programs, VA; Mr. David Vos, Director, Office of HIV/AIDS Housing, HUD; Dr. Deborah Parham Hopson, Associate Administrator for HIV/AIDS, HRSA and Dr. Linda Youngman, Branch Chief, Community Grants and Program Development, Center for Substance Abuse Prevention, SAMHSA then took questions from listeners.
YOUR questions were timely and thoughtful.The panel responded to your questions about testing technologies, counseling, insurance coverage, federal support for HIV testing and care, stigma, the impact of HIV on disproportionately impacted populations, and more.
In closing the webinar, Dr. Grant Colfax, Director, Office of National AIDS Policy spoke on the relationship of HIV testing to the goals of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy. This session also highlighted resources for HIV testing including the HIV/AIDS Prevention and Service Providers Locator and encouraged listeners to follow the USG presence at AIDS 2012.
The full conversation from the webinar has been posted on AIDS.gov. Click here for the “HIV Testing for an AIDS-Free Generation” audio podcast, transcript and slides.