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HIV Testing in NC is Not Anonymous, Experts Worry that Puts Us at Risk

Posted December 13, 1998

— For some people, the thought of getting tested for HIV is terrifying. Even fear of spreading the disease is not enough to motivate them.

That is because in North Carolina, HIV tests are not anonymous, and some experts worry until that changes, all of us are at risk.

The federal government wants our state and 10 other states to re-think the way we handle AIDS testing.

John Burnell lost his brother to AIDS 4 years ago, and he faced his first HIV test 8 months ago.

"If you're scared to give your name, you're scared to get the test. If you are going to get the test, you might as well give your name," said Burnell.

But getting the test can be scary for even the most health conscious people like Melissa Brinson.

"It's hard enough to get the test done, let alone to give personal information that you might not want to give out," said Brinson.

And Jaquelyn Clymore says when people come to the AIDS service agency in Raleigh, they will head right back out the door when they find out confidential testing requires your name and social security number.

"It's tragic, because those who need to don't get tested, or they get tested down the road when it's too late for doctors to help them," said Clymore.

"There are concerns out there. Now we have to look at it," said Dr. Dennis McBride, our state's health director.

At the request for theCenters for Disease Control, McBride will be looking to see if any changes need to be made to North Carolina's procedures for administering AIDS tests.

"What I'll be looking at is at-risk groups. Are they getting tested? Are there any changes in these at-risk groups getting the tests?" said McBride.

McBride says in a few weeks he'll make a decision about whether the state should change to anonymous testing as the CDC is recommending, or continue the confidential testing currently used.

In anonymous testing, you do not have to give your name or social security number.


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