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Washington rules
ease HIV-testing requirements

Washington rules
ease HIV-testing requirements

Hoping to reduce barriers to HIV antibody testing and increase the number of state residents who are screened for HIV infection, the Washington State Board of Health has revised its HIV counseling and notification rules, TheSeattle Times reports. The new rules eliminate the mandatory minimum level of counseling physicians and other health care providers must give to those seeking HIV antibody tests, instead allowing the counseling to be tailored to each person's HIV risk history. The new rules also move from doctors to local health agencies the responsibility of notifying the sexual partners of newly infected people.

Physicians in the state have said the old counseling and notification requirements took up too much of their time and made offering HIV antibody tests to their patients too burdensome.

"Our goal is to dramatically increase testing and make it more routine," Tom Locke, chairman of the health board, told the Times. "To do that we needed to drastically revise the rules."

Washington has recorded more than 15,000 HIV cases since 1982. Health officials estimate that there are currently 2,000 state residents who are HIV-positive yet unaware of their infections because they have not taken HIV antibody tests.

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