St. Louis High School to Test Students for HIV After Possible Exposure

October 23, 2008 03:15 PM
by Rachel Balik
One unidentified person possibly associated with Normandy (Mo.) High School who tested positive for HIV has suggested that 50 students may have been exposed.

HIV Scare Sparks Testing

The St. Louis County Health Department has determined that 50 Normandy High School students may have been exposed to the HIV virus after someone who may be associated with the school tested positive for the virus. The Associated Press reported that the person with HIV, whose identity has not been made public, indicated that he or she may have exposed 50 students at the school to the virus, although the method of transmission is also being kept secret, as required by privacy laws.

The school plans to set up a testing center so that all 1,300 students may obtain information about the virus or test for HIV. Never before has a public health investigation led authorities back to a school, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says.

Students’ parents received a letter informing them about the risk and the testing center. Students are not obligated to be tested, but most said they would do so to be safe. Although the school is making every effort to ensure that testing remains confidential, some students are concerned that the whole school will be stigmatized after significant newspaper publicity.

Related Topic: Universal testing for HIV

The New York City Department of Health wants to make HIV testing a routine part of medical care in the Bronx. Their plan would encourage HIV testing for all residents ages 18 and older during regular medical visits, while eliminating pretesting counseling as a time-saving measure. However, some in the health industry are resistant.

Additionally, testing methods are not always as reliable as they should be. In August, the government announced that it had underestimated the number of Americans who are contracting AIDS each year. A new blood test and new statistical methods revealed a more accurate measure. Though some were optimistic about receiving better information, others felt it was reflective of America’s inadequate HIV/AIDS policy.

Reference: Understanding AIDS


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