Today’s blog post won’t tell a story but it will raise awareness about prevention and treatment.
I’m always intrigued to learn about new developments in prevention and treatment of diseases especially infectious diseases. I was sitting at work this morning and stumbled across an article about HIV testing possibly being incorporated into routine physical screenings. The first thought that came to mind was FINALLY!!!! The U.S. Health Panel is taking more action in prevention rather than treatment. This makes sense being that President Barack Obama just passed a healthcare law that require insurers to cover preventive services recommended by the task force. It may not seem like a big deal to most but trust this makes a HUGE difference in the way we tackle this disease. Allowing HIV to become a routine screening will not only reduce the stigma surrounding it but it will probably reduce the number of newly infected individuals (That’s my optimism talking :-)).
When I attended Howard University I enrolled in a Disease Prevention and Control course (satisfying my electives quota). This course was really an eye opener for me because I have always viewed diseases as treatment-oriented as oppose to prevention-oriented (Yes, I am really about to give you a lesson on prevention :-)). Disease Prevention is classified into 3 stages: Primary, Secondary and Tertiary with primary being disease avoidance, secondary being early detection and tertiary being damage minimization. Majority of the time individuals are in the secondary or tertiary stage of prevention which means they are at risk of acquiring the disease or they have already been diagnosed with the disease. The one thing my instructor and any Public Health officials will tell you primary prevention should be our focus and we should never look at a PREVENTABLE disease as a treatment option.
When we take more control of our health with prevention the benefits generally outweigh the cost. Of course, with any new recommendation or thought process comes criticism. As stated in the Huffington Post,
“While the task force doesn’t factor cost into its considerations, the CDC and other healthcare providers do. Researchers at Stanford University estimate that over a 20-year period, expanding HIV testing to the general U.S. population would reach $27 billion dollars.
A more cost-effective solution proposed by the researchers, and in line with CDC recommendations, would be to do a one-time screening of the general population, followed up by annual testing in areas with greater prevalence of the disease.”
While I don’t totally disagree with the recommendation, in my opinion it is still marginalizing to a specific group when the disease is affecting the general population. Just as young women get pap smears after their first menstruation, individuals that are sexually active should get mandatory routine screenings for HIV.
I have come to notice that in the US we are willing to express change but more reluctant to act on it. Health care reform is breaking down the barriers and evoking a paradigm shift with the way we approach prevention and treatment. That is the main reason I am pro-health care reform and will continue to be. This will literally change the way the virus is detected and treated by clinicians. I, for one, am glad to see they are taking greater leaps with the way we practice medicine because honestly times are changing and the current practices are frankly becoming outdated. HIV is no longer marginalized to just one group but it is affecting the general population especially the African-American community. This new recommendation will be available for public comment at the end of the year. Hopefully it will shift individuals thought process just as that course did for me.
I would like to ask my readers today what are your thoughts on prevention and how are you incorporating this into your everyday life?
If you want to know more information about this topic visit the following link: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/20/hiv-testing-routine-us-preventive-services-task-force-recommendation_n_1809745.html