New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg on Monday announced that the city will begin offering rapid HIV antibody tests in 2004 because the long wait for results from existing testing methods discourages city residents from being tested or returning to testing sites to obtain their results, the New York Post reports. "In the meantime, if they had to wait a long time, perhaps other people were infected," Bloomberg said.
The tests will be offered through city health agencies and clinics as well as by AIDS service groups that receive city funds for HIV testing. The mayor also announced the formation of a 20-member commission to help shape the city's HIV/AIDS policies. The commission will consist of city officials, health care experts, and social service organization representatives.
While AIDS activists praised the decision to begin providing city-funded rapid HIV testing, some questioned whether a new AIDS panel was needed. "Why are we having yet another commission to reexamine data we already know?" asked Keith Cylar, copresident of the AIDS service organization Housing Works. There are about 81,000 people living with HIV/AIDS in New York City. More than 5,400 new HIV infections were recorded in the city in 2002.