Mandatory HIV Testing May Tick Some People Off, But It May Also Save Lives

Health Check 19

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

doctors, drugs, illness, medical tests, preventative medicine, relationships, sex life


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Estel... EstellaHavisham

When I lived in S. Korea, HIV tests were part of being issued a visa. They're a low-risk country, though. There's a lot to say on that subject (the Korean gov't putting up billboards telling Korean women that if they sleep with a Western man, they'll contract aids -- great propaganda), but we haven't got the time.

There are tons of places in the US to get tested for free. In Boston there are traveling STD testing mobiles. I don't think people should be forced into HIV testing (although in places like Estonia, maybe. They're actually in danger of wiping themselves out with the disease); however, I do think there should be a massive push (starting with sex education) encouraging people to get tested often. I get tested every year for everything regardless of being in a monogamous relationship and I'm horrified to learn that some of my very sexually active friends who have multiple partners have never been tested. 

Own your health, people. And if you are afraid to get tested, do it for the other people you may end up hurting. There are no excuses. Go to your doctor. Go to your local Planned Parenthood. Go to a clinic. Go to a testing centre on wheels. Just do it. And talk about it! It's the only way to get people moving. 

Flori... Floridamom96

We're either free to decide for ourselves (about anything) or we are wards of the state with no choice in anything. Which do you want? It's absolutely hysterical to me that all the "stay out of my uterus", "it's my body, my choice", "keep your hands off my bush" feminists are all for giving up the right to choose in every circumstance other than abortion. Oh, the irony. 

And PonyChaser, these people have most likely never even read the constitution and have absolutely no idea what it says, nor do they care. They are wholly governed governed by emotions and relative morality, by what "feels right". Which really means they are enslaved by their feelings and want everyone else to be the same.

Felly... FellyScarlett

It's just a freakin test, what's the big deal?

nonmember avatar Nicole

In Honduras where I live, it's mandatory to get tested before you get married, and I think that's a great idea, no one enters into a marriage and children without knowing first .

PonyC... PonyChaser

I know, Florida. It's incredibly sad, isn't it? I weep for our country.

And FellyScarlet... what's the big deal? How about this: The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

That's the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution. It doesn't surprise me that you don't know it.

That means that the government has ABSOLUTELY NO RIGHT to require that you take an HIV test, or any other test, donate your blood, or give any other part of your body, to them with a warrant signed by a judge, specifically detailing the probabability that you already have the disease and you have committed some offense with it. If you're just sittin' there, they can't require it.

That's why it's not "just a freakin' test".

Jespren Jespren

1) I completely agree with PonyChaser

2) *states*, however, do have a Consitutional right to invoke such and I could see getting behind a *state* requirement to be tested before marriage

3) the problem with mandating *anything* with HIV is it's not a casual tranmission issue as with other 'public health' issues in the past like Polio or Measles. Rare occurances aside you get HIV because you (or your spouse) slept with someone you shouldn't have. Until public health officials, doctors, and the government in general stop hiding behind a bunch of pc bs and starts advocating to stop the spread of the disease by halting the behavior that allows it to spread, all they are doing is putting a bandaid on a septic wound, it's window dressing and will do *nothing* to actually quell the problem. Want to toss HIV in the same dustbin as Smallpox? Enter marriage as a virgin and stay faithful to your spouse for life. Anything else is useless against the onslaught of STDs, including HIV.

Felly... FellyScarlett

Haha calm down Pony Boy, before you have a seizure. All I did was ask a question. No real need to get your panties in a twist. And, by the way, I know the constitution.

Why do you think I don't know the fourth amendment? Have you ever met me? Yea DIDN'T THINK SO. You think I'm some stupid teenager? Because I'm on track to graduate with a degree in Anthropology, just for the record. Maybe you shouldn't assume so much :)

nurse... nursemama88

IL requires all pregnant women to get hiv tests. Like someone said it should be a state law. As a nurse would i like to know if my patients haf stds, hepatitis, etc? Sure. But i treat everyone as having a disease and i protect myself.

PonyC... PonyChaser

And Felly, maybe you shouldn't ask such an inane question about a serious topic. Congrats on your degree in Anthropology. I hope it serves you well.

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