for Health Care Providers
National HIV Testing Day, June 27
The VHA is the largest single provider of HIV care in the United States, providing care for more than 25,000 Veterans with HIV in 2012. Yet, only 25.7% of Veterans have ever been tested for HIV in the VHA system. We are encouraging every Veteran to get tested for HIV at least once in their lifetime. Unfortunately, too many Americans who are infected with HIV learn about their positive status late into the course of their disease. The Office of Public Health encourages all providers, especially those in primary care, mental health, homeless programs, and substance-use treatment clinics, to offer routine HIV testing to all patients in order to diagnose HIV infection at the earliest possible stage.
To help promote early diagnosis of HIV and to simplify the process, the VHA revised its policies on HIV testing and informed consent. As of August 17, 2009, written informed consent is no longer required for HIV testing. Instead, Veterans are able to provide verbal consent for voluntary HIV testing. Also, lengthy pre/post-test counseling is no longer required; rather, providers must give patients written materials on HIV. Another important change is that HIV testing is no longer limited to only those Veterans who identify risk factors or risky behaviors. In line with current Federal public health recommendations, voluntary HIV testing is now recommended as a part of routine medical care for all Veterans. These policy changes have a common goal: to diagnose infection as soon as possible so that Veterans can receive state-of-the-art care and remain healthy for many years to come.
Patient Information on HIV Testing
VA HIV Testing Policies
As of August 17, 2009, written (signature) consent is no longer required for HIV testing in the VHA. Instead, patients will provide verbal informed consent prior to HIV testing. Furthermore, scripted pre-test and post-test counseling are no longer mandated. Learn more about these changes in policy.