Health officials in Colorado announced this week that they plan to dramatically change the state's HIV prevention focus, The Denver Post reports. Emphasis will be shifted away from conducting sex and AIDS education programs in schools and conducting HIV education outreach in rural areas, and instead will focus on widespread HIV antibody testing to identify people who are unaware they're infected with the virus. Kees Rietmeijer, director of the sexually transmitted disease clinic at the Denver public health department, said the decision to expand HIV testing was made because new HIV infections are on the rise both nationally and in Colorado despite existing HIV prevention efforts. "We obviously need to do something different," he said.
The Colorado plan fits with calls by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to shift HIV prevention funding from traditional outreach programs to those that push HIV testing and encourage people infected with the virus to protect their sex partners from infection. Doctors in Colorado will over the next year begin incorporating HIV antibody tests into regular patient visits and will begin using rapid HIV tests that can produce results within 20 minutes, said Terry Tiller-Taylor of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. Colorado receives about $4 million in federal HIV prevention funding each year.