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FYI: The U.S. Centers for Disease Control announced a new focus for its HIV prevention strategy yesterday that some advocates worry is dangerously close to mandatory testing. The CDC, which cannot mandate how testing is conducted but holds great sway by influencing federal funding, urged doctors to begin testing pregnant women as a matter of course, just as they screen for a variety of other illnesses. Women would have to ask not to be tested. The recommendation represents an about-face from the 20-year-long consensus that patients should request a test and receive counseling before and after getting it. The CDC also announced plans to shift funding priorities next fiscal year away from prevention campaigns targeting people who are negative and towards convincing people living with the virus to act responsibly to prevent its further spread. Meanwhile, a group of unidentified scientists told the New York Times that project managers at both the CDC and the National Institutes of Health have advised them to avoid certain “key words” in their research funding applications, such as “anal sex,” “sex workers” and “needle exchange” in order to prevent heightened scrutiny that will delay their funding. [4/18/03]

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