AIDS Education:

Issues Affecting Counseling and Testing Programs

HRD-89-39: Published: Feb 3, 1989. Publicly Released: Feb 27, 1989.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO discussed its preliminary reviews of federal and state education programs to prevent the spread of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), focusing on the Centers for Disease Control's (CDC) voluntary AIDS counseling and testing programs.

GAO found that: (1) staff shortages and insufficient program data have hampered CDC efforts to provide technical assistance and evaluate its contractors' voluntary AIDS counseling and testing performance; (2) the CDC did not have enough specialists to monitor and evaluate grantees; (3) the CDC database was too limited to measure and compare grantee performance because CDC delayed requiring grantees to submit consistent risk group and demographic data; and (4) CDC increased its funding for counseling and testing services to about $95 million in 1989. GAO also found that: (1) low-risk groups in some areas may benefit from the program more than high-risk groups; (2) state efforts to implement counseling and testing programs at drug abuse clinics were slowed by inadequate resources and staffs' reluctance to involve themselves with AIDS-infected persons; (3) patients' failure to keep follow-up and long-term appointments increased the risk of AIDS transmission; (4) public health officials modified their partner notification procedures because of possible discrimination and the stigma associated with AIDS infection; (5) federal courts have held that antidiscrimination laws protect AIDS-infected persons; and (6) further federal legislation could improve antidiscrimination protection and AIDS control efforts.

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