HOT SPRINGS, VA. -- The Medical Society of Virginia has endorsed various measures to fight AIDS, including limited mandatory testing, more voluntary testing, and the reporting of positive tests to the state Department of Health.
The society's House of Delegates Saturday rejected proposals for more aggressive mandatory testing aimed at a wide range of groups. Delegates debated the value of testing versus the value of education in the approach to acquired immune deficiency syndrome.
About 260 delegates voted to oppose mandatory testing of patients admitted to hospitals and routine testing of applicants for marriage licenses.
Also, the delegates voted to recommend testing for prisoners only on a case-by-case basis when ordered by a physician, and they also voted to endorse guidelines for reporting both AIDS patients and those who have tested positive for exposure to the AIDS virus but do not show symptoms of the disease.
"It is my feeling that this is the single most important thing we can do to forestall the impending epidemic," said Dr. Charles Caravati of Richmond, who pushed for reporting patients who test positive for the deadly disease. "We need to know who these people are who are transmitting this disease."
Caravati and two other past presidents of the state medical society were less successful in selling a wide-ranging proposal that included mandatory testing for all hospital admissions, marriage license applicants, patients at state-run facilities and students in Virginia colleges, among others.
The delegates compromised by urging voluntary testing for a number of people, including all health care workers who have accidents with contaminated blood, all prostitutes, all homosexuals and bisexuals, all patients at drug, family planning and sexually transmissible disease clinics, and any other high-risk people admitted to a hospital or applying for a marriage license.
The society recommended mandatory testing for all blood, organ or tissue donors, immigrants and military personnel.