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Long Beach : Clinics Will Test for AIDS

July 07, 1988

Residents who use two of the Public Health Department's clinics may unknowingly be tested for AIDS under a program seeking to find out the prevalance of exposure to the deadly virus.

Long Beach is one of 13 jurisdictions in the state that will participate in the "blind testing" program developed by the federal Centers for Disease Control, said Michael Parker, the Health Department's administrative officer.

Patients who have blood samples taken in the prenatal clinic or the sexually transmitted disease clinic will be tested for the AIDS virus. But because all identification is removed from the samples, authorities will not be able to track down an individual if he or she has contracted the virus.

The anonymity ensures confidentiality, Parker said. In addition, patients are strongly urged to be tested for AIDS if they suspect they are ill or if they belong to one of the groups in which the disease is most prevalent, Parker said.

Only some of the people who get the virus actually contract acquired immune deficiency syndrome, which disables the body's disease-fighting mechanisms. But blood can be tested for the presence of antibodies that occur in people who have the virus.

The nationwide "blind testing" program aims to discover how widespread the AIDS virus is among drug users and the general population.

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