The Role of Health Education Specialists in Conducting Rapid HIV Testing

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American Journal of Health Studies

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC, 2013) estimate that there are approximately 1.1 million people over the age of 13 who are living with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in the United States (U.S.). In addition, an estimated 16% of HIV-positive individuals are unaware of their status (CDC, 2012a). Although the overall incidence of HIV has remained stable at approximately 50,000 annual infections since 2006, some risk populations remain disproportionately affected (CDC, 2012b). Men who have sex with men continue to bear the greatest burden of HIV infection, and African Americans continue to be disproportionately affected compared to other racial/ethnic groups (CDC, 2012b). Ensuring the availability and access of HIV testing to these high-risk populations are keys to controlling the epidemic. One possible solution to this public health problem is to augment the workforce that can conduct rapid HIV testing (RHT). In this paper, we focus on the role of health educators, specifically Certified Health Education Specialists (CHES)/Master CHES, as being professionally prepared to conduct RHT.