U.S. health officials Thursday called for doctors to provide HIV patients with condoms and take other measures to stem transmission of the virus that causes AIDS. New guidelines recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other U.S. health agencies encourage medical professionals and social workers to work more closely with people who have HIV and their partners on prevention.
“It's time we merge prevention services for HIV-infected persons into the mainstream of medical care,” said CDC director Julie Gerberding in a news release.
The measures include the use of questionnaires and interviews to assess patients’ risk behaviors for HIV transmission as well as testing them for sexually transmitted diseases. Providing condoms and written materials on HIV prevention is also recommended.
Additionally, health care workers are encouraged to determine whether HIV patients have notified sex partners of their infection, and to help those partners with counseling and testing.
As many as 30 percent of the estimated 900,000 people living with HIV in the United States do not know that they have the virus. The CDC hopes to increase the percentage of people who know they carry the virus from 70 percent to 95 percent by 2005.
The CDC said that while some people with HIV reduce risky behavior, recent reports suggest many have a hard time sustaining those behavior changes.
Each year, about 16,000 Americans die from AIDS and another 40,000 become infected with HIV. An estimated 40 million people worldwide are infected with the virus.