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A. HIV Testing In Hospitals: The Social Issues

Narrator: This is Science Today. Should all hospital patients be routinely tested for the HIV virus? A research group led by Peter Lurie of the University of California, San Francisco concluded that HIV testing would be cost effective only in the twenty percent of American hospitals where the infection rate among patients is already known to be one percent or greater. Besides cost, Lurie says a testing program would bring up a number of other issues.

Lurie: One can't simply decide whether or not to implement an inpatient HIV testing program on cost-effectiveness grounds alone, because HIV occurs in a much broader social context. Would it actually be logistically feasible to have a counseling and testing program in a hospital where people are very often already overworked? Is this the best way to use scarce HIV prevention dollars? Is there a danger of social discrimination against the people who are identified as HIV positive in such a testing program?

Narrator: And then there's the problem of false positive test results. About five thousand people a year would be falsely labeled as having HIV, according to Lurie's research. For Science Today, I'm Steve Tokar.