DPH: On World Aids Day, DPH Announces State Lab to Begin Offering Comprehensive HIV Testing Services

On World Aids Day, DPH Announces State Lab to Begin Offering Comprehensive HIV Testing Services

In observance of World AIDS Day, the Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH) today announced that the Katherine A. Kelly State Public Health Laboratory will be expanding its testing services to offer comprehensive HIV testing services.

"While tremendous strides have been made over the years in regards to HIV treatment, testing and awareness, now is not the time to rest on our laurels," Governor Malloy said. "Expanding Connecticut’s comprehensive HIV testing services is a critical step in ensuring the continuation of the progress we have made in combatting this disease. On this World AIDS day, I am proud that our state will be providing patients with free testing, so that all people - no matter their socio-economic status, will have access to this critical healthcare tool."

The State Lab currently performs HIV antibody and antigen testing. The expanded panel will include additional CD4 T-cell count, and viral load testing, two markers used to monitor response to treatment. The Lab is also planning to add in the next several months HIV resistance testing through genomic sequencing, which will allow doctors to select effective antiretroviral therapy regimens for patients with HIV.

"HIV can be treated successfully as a chronic disease, but it is critical to be tested early and to be re-tested to ensure that the most effective individual therapies are being employed for each patient. Unfortunately, people with no insurance or with high deductible or co-pay plans face financial barriers to this necessary, life-saving testing and that, in turn, prevents them from getting the medicines they need," said DPH Commissioner Dr. Raul Pino. "This new testing, which is free to patients, by the State Lab will eliminate that financial barrier and increase access to this testing. No patient at risk or suspected of having HIV should be deterred from testing because of cost. Life is far more valuable than the price of a test."

According to Dr. Jafar Razeq, Director of the State Lab, the Lab currently performs 7,300 HIV antibody and antigen screenings annually. Once the new testing services are fully implemented, all patients found to be positive for HIV will be further tested for viral load. Dr. Razeq said that comprehensive testing in the Lab will allow patients and their medical providers to make quicker, more accurate decisions on the best course of treatment.

"We are anticipating being able to turn around test results in one week from an initial patient visit to their medical provider. This should allow medical providers to determine the best therapy regimen for their patients and get them started on those therapies as quickly as possible," said Dr. Razeq.

In addition to HIV testing services, the State Lab also currently offers screening tests for other Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) and opportunistic infections that are recommended for HIV patients. These include testing for syphilis, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C.

Content Last Modified on 12/1/2017 11:25:58 AM