07/19/07 — County health department sets sights on local HIV testing program

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County health department sets sights on local HIV testing program

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on July 19, 2007 1:45 PM

Concerned about undetected cases of HIV in Wayne County, health officials are weighing several options for testing in the community.

Health Director James Roosen told the Board of Health this week that he has been investigating ways to identify those who are most at-risk.

The greatest concern, he said, is locating anyone who have never been tested and in turn not getting proper care.

"Our goal is to link as many people with care as possible," he said.

Several statewide programs are currently available.

"Get Real, Get Tested" is expected to be implemented locally in September, Roosen said.

"We'll have teams of state personnel and possibly staff, who will go out into the county and draw blood tests from people willing," he said. "(The state has) asked us to identify areas where there are high-risk populations."

Because the effort has already been successfully conducted in such cities as Fayetteville, Raleigh and Rocky Mount, he said expenses for local implementation could be minimized.

"It would offer us a great way to find out those people that have never been tested, what their rate is and also present an opportunity for people to be tested," he said.

The Health Department is also negotiating for a $23,000 grant through East Carolina University that would provide follow-up for those found to be HIV-positive. Unfortunately, Roosen said, he just learned the funding won't be available until December so that will be put on the back burner for now.

Meanwhile, officials are mobilizing to do the HIV rapid test, a quick swab inside the cheek, the health director said.

"We're trying to get community based organization to do the tests in areas where they operate," he explained. "It's just an effort to help us with surveillance."