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Streamlined consent forms, quicker tests, better data collection, and wider access to test results: these are the bones of new state guidelines issued this week on HIV testing and counseling. The protocols are the latest move by state agencies to make HIV testing a routine part of New Yorkers’ health care. Following an April 26 meeting of the New York State AIDS Advisory, the state Department of Health issued the guidelines to over 4,000 HIV care and service providers across the state. The new consent form includes authorization to test both the drug resistance of the patient’s HIV strain and the patient’s viral load. For those who test positive, a new release form would allow HIV-related and general medical information to be released to “more than one provider at a time,” and allow providers to “exchange information between and among themselves.” “It’s going to make HIV testing easier, it’s going to give us better data on the quality of HIV care folks are getting, but it’s going to maintain patient privacy,” said Michael Kink of Housing Works. The regulations come as New York City Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Frieden is calling for changes to laws that require HIV testing to be consensual, and for government oversight into the medical records of HIV positive New Yorkers. The state Department of Health could not be reached for comment. [5/2/05]

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