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July 31, 2008

A Battle in the Bronx Over HIV Testing

If you're over 18 and a resident of the Bronx, the city of New York wants you to get tested for HIV — sooner rather than later. The borough's death rate from AIDS is nearly 10 times the national average, which health officials attribute to the fact that about 25% of its residents only learn they are infected after the disease has progressed to full-blown AIDS. In an ambitious plan announced at the end of June, the New York City Department of Health hopes to make HIV testing a basic part of routine medical care —as standard as mammograms, cholesterol screenings and setting broken arms. "Wherever you encounter the health care system, if you're offered the HIV test as part of the routine, then many more people are likely to do it," explains Dr. Monica Sweeney, the Dept. of Health's assistant commissioner for HIV prevention and control. But in the South Bronx, a blighted part of this borough just north of Manhattan, the initiative is encountering resistance from some of the very people who have devoted their careers to fighting the disease and comforting the afflicted. source

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