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September 18, 2012

CVPH to offer HIV testing option

PLATTSBURGH — CVPH Medical Center will offer HIV testing for patients ages 13 to 64 who utilize its Emergency Department beginning Oct. 1.

The service will be provided on a volunteer basis in response to statewide initiatives to enhance HIV education and reduce the potential spread of the virus that causes AIDS.

“New York has always been very proactive in emphasizing the need for HIV testing,” said Erica Wood, infection-prevention manager for the Medical Center. “We (at CVPH) want to do what we can to help people receive this kind of service.”

Tests completed at the Emergency Department will be included on the patient’s bill and may not be covered by insurance.

ALL CAN BE IMPACTED

The state revised its HIV-testing policies in 2010, emphasizing the need to offer it to anyone in the targeted age group.

Anyone receiving hospital or primary-care services must be asked if they want HIV testing unless their medical condition prohibits them from receiving the test or from consenting to the it.

“All people of all ages and all lifestyles can be impacted (by HIV infection),” Wood said. 

In certain cases, the service can also be offered to those who are older than 64 and have participated in risky behaviors that increase the potential for contracting HIV.

CONSENT NOT NEEDED

The law allows for children 13 and older to receive HIV education and testing without the consent of a parent or guardian.

“We will ask the parent if we can have a moment alone with the child,” said Angela Neyer, a registered nurse in the CVPH Emergency Care Center, who helped author the hospital’s policy for HIV testing in there.

She estimated that 90 percent of the parents who accompany their teens to the Emergency Room “do respect that right.”

Staff will also assess a young person’s ability to comprehend HIV-related information and will not offer the test to those who do not have the capacity to consent without a parent’s support.

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