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HIV Testing

May 23, 1994

That Los Angeles County's HIV/AIDS counseling and testing program ranked among the worst in the country is not the most shameful news we face (May 10). What is worse is that low public confidence and awareness about HIV testing are killing people. We need easy and anonymous ways to access counseling and testing services.

In the San Gabriel Valley there isn't enough money for condom distribution or the production of public service announcements. Last year, the local anonymous testing program was shut down for four weeks because funds ran out.

Los Angeles County has the second highest incidence of HIV and AIDS in the nation (1 in 193 adults are HIV positive) and half the people who are infected don't know it.

There is some hope, though. Many of us who work in the field have begun endorsing home HIV test kits, which provide counseling by phone as well as literature and referral information. While the personal approach of the clinical setting is our first choice, home testing kits can be an important alternative.

With AIDS caseloads swelling daily and public awareness trailing far behind, everyone needs easy, confidential access to his or her HIV status now. The county can accomplish this effectively, but not without community support and more funding of AIDS prevention and education.

LARRY A. PAGNONI

Executive Director, AIDS Service Center

San Gabriel Valley, Pasadena

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