The New York City health department plans to announce on Thursday an ambitious three-year effort to give an H.I.V. test to every adult living in the Bronx, which has a far higher death rate from AIDS than any other borough. The campaign will begin with a push to make the voluntary testing routine in emergency rooms and storefront clinics, where city officials say that cumbersome consent procedures required by state law have deterred doctors from offering the tests.Skip to next paragraph Enlarge This Image Todd Heisler/The New York Times
Dr. Donna Futterman, left, with Rosita Gonzalez and colleagues at Montefiore Medical Center, helped the city shape the plan.
“Routine would mean if you came into the emergency room for asthma or a broken leg, we test everyone for H.I.V., if they’re willing,” the health commissioner, Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, said in an interview on Wednesday.
While Manhattan has long been the epicenter of the AIDS epidemic in New York, with the highest incidence of both AIDS and H.I.V., the virus that causes it, the Bronx, with its poorer population, has far more deaths from the disease. Public health officials attribute this to people not getting tested until it is too late to treat the virus effectively, thus turning a disease that can now be managed with medication into a death sentence.
Several AIDS experts said on Wednesday that the Bronx campaign was the most aggressive testing effort they could recall in the nation. Two years ago, Washington, D.C., made a high-profile push to test 450,000 residents, enlisting celebrity endorsements and distributing 80,000 free testing kits, but the campaign resulted in only about 45,000 people being tested.