The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that one quarter of those infected with HIV in the United States are unaware of their serostatus. HIV-positive individuals who do not know that they are infected are more likely to transmit HIV to others. In addition, HIV/AIDS is a treatable disease, and early identification and linkage to care results in better health outcomes. Currently, African Americans (who tend to be late testers) have a much higher death rate from HIV/AIDS than any other racial/ethnic group. Because African Americans bear a disproportionate burden of the U.S. HIV/AIDS epidemic, it is likely that expanding HIV testing and counseling will impact this community.
This meeting brought together a diverse group, including African American opinion leaders; representatives of AIDS advocacy organizations and drug policy organizations; the faith community; researchers from diverse disciplines including health disparities, criminal justice, drug abuse treatment, and primary care; and representatives from SAMHSA, CDC, and NIH with the purpose of providing input to research initiatives on how to better deliver HIV education, testing, counseling, and treatment. One major objective of this meeting was to identify all potential harmful and beneficial effects associated with conducting research on HIV Testing and Counseling. Another objective was to solicit suggestions on how to enhance the beneficial effects while mitigating harmful effects of HIV Testing. A final objective was to initiate new collaborations and establish ongoing dialog with African American opinion leaders.