"If we are serious about addressing this epidemic in our community then screening for HIV has to become routine," Marsha Martin, the city official in charge of the programme, told the Washington Post. "Because we'll miss too many people otherwise ... We have to start making it part of the public consciousness, that HIV is of and among us."When reading this I am reminded of the New York experiment to treat HIV+ children in care as guinea pigs using experimental toxic drugs. Children as young as three months were fed and in some cases force fed these toxic drugs. The children were the most vulnerable members of the community - many were orphans, others were fostered, most were children of black and came from run down neighbourhoods in New York. Returning to Washington DC's plan to enforce every citizen to undergo an HIV saliva test sets a dangerous precedent. The city has a majority Black population many of whom are extremely poor and the project is yet another example of how black and poor people in the US are being treated with regards to HIV. The idea of forcing people to undergo HIV tests, the results of which will no doubt be used by employers, landlords, hospitals and other public services is unethical and alarming. Firstly the saliva test itself is not a reliable test and therefore many people will come away from the tests with false information and the city will not have accurate data on the HIV status of it's citizens. Secondly because of the speed of the test (20minutes) there is no opportunity for people to receive pre and post test counselling which has been established as an essential precursor to HIV testing. The organisers claim they will provide counselling but it is difficult to see how this will take place if the test itself only takes 20 minutes and provides an instant but unreliable result.
Tags: HIV + Test Washington DC