Opinion: HIV study important to health care

Dillan Schorfheide, Sports Editor

Universal healthcare is a topic I do not intend on expounding upon head-on, but a U.S. government study published Monday should turn heads on the idea.

While I agree, on the face of it, that universal healthcare is a good idea and the right thing to do, there are a lot of behind-the-scenes factors that make some oppose it.

In any case, what this study, published in JAMA Internal Medicine Monday, shows is that easy access to healthcare resources can help people find out if they have a disease, leading them to seek out treatment.

The study used 2,600 participants: Half of them were sent four free HIV test kits but could order more, while the other half only got a link to local testing services.

In the half that received actual test kits, AP reported Monday that many of them ordered more test kits and shared some with others.

Overall, 25 infections were detected in the self-testing group, versus 11 in the other group.

Despite the low percentage of actual infections found out of the overall 1,300 in each group, what this shows is that when these resources are given to people, it is easier for them to possibly get help or find out that they have an infection.

Even though only 11 in the group that received just a link found that they had an infection, the fact that they received some sort of resources may have been the difference for them.

The findings show what good can come out of the government giving out resources to those who need them.

Continuing with more results from the study, AP reported that over 70 percent of participants who learned of positive results sought treatment.

To put the study in perspective, AP reported that a little over a million Americans are living with HIV.

Within that figure, more than two-thirds of newly diagnosed people are men who have sex with men, and 1 in 6 of these men are unaware of their infection.

The participants that made up the study are men who have sex with other men.

But the figure that jumps out the most is that 1 in 6 of those men are unaware of their infection, which is an issue not unique to HIV.

We have all heard about those who had cancerous tumors for years and did not learn they had it until it was too late; others had the same experience with other diseases or illnesses.

So many people may not know they have diseases, or cannot afford to buy treatments for them, so the results of this study are necessary for the future path of healthcare.

No matter if universal healthcare becomes a reality, or if healthcare becomes cheaper for everyone, either would be beneficial for the masses.

Maybe the more ironic part of this whole thing is that the government conducted the study but probably will not do anything about it, not if the private pharma lobbyists have anything to say about it.

Dillan Schorfheide is a senior journalism major. He can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected]