To the editor:
A May 12 Journal-World editorial titled “Shirking state” omitted important information regarding changes to HIV testing operations in Kansas. Douglas County continues to have a publicly funded HIV testing site.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention made a strategic decision to reallocate HIV prevention resources based on the burden of disease in accordance with the National HIV/AIDS Strategy. As a result, funds are being redirected to high-incidence states. Kansas is a low-incidence state, with less than 200 new HIV/AIDS cases each year. Federal HIV funding in Kansas saw a 38 percent reduction between 2010 and 2013, with $521,370 this year to fund HIV testing and service contracts with local agencies. Anticipation of the Affordable Care Act led federal partners to convey an expectation that many public health services previously funded through grants will be billable to third party payers.
The CDC does not recommend general screening for HIV for populations with a positive testing rate under 0.1 percent. This year’s reduction in federal funding forced the HIV program to reconsider testing in areas with less than 0.1 percent positivity. The Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department did not meet that minimum threshold so it was discontinued as a state-supported testing site. The Douglas County AIDS Project at 346 Maine St. continues to perform KDHE-funded HIV testing.
All Kansans should know their HIV status. State law requires that a test site be available within 100 miles of any point in the state, and this statute is still met by the supported sites. KDHE applauds all health care service providers in Kansas for their tireless efforts to protect public health.