HIV testingWould you be angry, insulted, or feel imposed upon if the government made HIV testing mandatory for every citizen? Would you revolt? Or would you acquiesce because you were sure it was all part of an effort to stop the spread of the disease?

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force is recommending that every American between the ages of 15 and 65 be tested for the virus. Everybody in that age range, regardless of personal history. 

I’m not a conspiracy theorist or anything (OK, just sometimes), but I wonder if there’s a certain threat to civil liberties if the government were to line us up and make us all have a go at testing. Is that preventative healthcare or an exploitation of power?

On the other hand, some 20 percent of folks infected with HIV have no idea and probably have no intention to get tested because they think they’re perfectly healthy. It’s been a hard cycle to break, despite the push for public information and widespread advocacy, particularly in communities that have been hardest hit. And that’s with the availability of free testing, new at-home testing kits, and celebrity spokespeople supporting the movement.

Still, a recommendation that everyone be tested seems like a precursor to something more… forced. And that, I’m sure, would infuriate and ostracize a whole heap of Americans, public health epidemic or not. You know we don’t like anybody trying to tell us what we have to do. I can almost hear people seceding from the union now.

Honestly, is it really a bad idea? I get the whole Constitutional rights bag, but I sure am thankful that polio and TB vaccines were made standard and have put the chokehold on those public health threats. I don’t see the harm in nudging people into knowing their status, especially since outreach isn’t influencing some of us to get ‘er done—even folks who know they haven’t behaved responsibly.

After all of the energy invested into spreading knowledge, I still know people who get dangerously comfortable with a sex partner after a couple of romps in the sack, like the possibility of infection lessens as the relationship progresses. Commitment doesn’t compromise the virus. Plenty of us now know that. But plenty isn’t all.

Is mandatory testing for everyone between the ages of 15 and 65 a good idea?  


Image via david__jones