Does it seem odd to you that despite an average of 40,000 new AIDS infections annually in America, there is no effective testing program in place? Worldwide, 16 million—including 2 million children—are infected with AIDS and will die. In our own country, the annual death count from AIDS will be nearly equal to the number killed in the entire ten-year history of the Vietnam War. Yet governments are ignoring a potential ally in the fight to curb the spread of AIDS: an affordable, easily available, and noninvasive HIV test.
For years, minority AIDS activists—many of them evangelicals—have been trying to get the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to approve the first saliva-based HIV test. It is a safe, effective, and low-cost means of testing for the deadly virus. Some in the medical community arc skeptical that a saliva test will be sufficiently reliable. No test is ever foolproof. So those testing positive or intermediate would still need to return for a blood test. Multiple studies show saliva testing to have an accuracy range comparable to blood testing—98 to 100 percent. Most important, it is the best method to date to expand personal knowledge of HIV status, particularly among those reluctant to have blood drawn. The time has come for the FDA and other government agencies to quit dragging their feet on testing and make it a component of the nation's central overall AIDS program.
Let's face it: The current government approach to AIDS is not working. The 50-member federal Advisory Committee on the Prevention of HIV Infection stated last year that the $539 million spent annually by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to slow the spread of HIV was "a dismal failure." The resignation ...1
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