Couples Testing: Feasible? by Hannah-Alise Rogers

I thought the articles from this week’s readings were really interesting, even if they were a little over my head. Last semester, I took a class on HIV with Dr. Susan Allen at the School of Public Health. In this course, we studied couples testing fairly extensively, and Dr. Allen runs her own couple’s testing program for heterosexual couples in Zambia. I honestly hadn’t really thought much about the idea of couple’s testing for non-heterosexual couples before. I was also surprised to hear that the study received a fairly positive response, because so much of what Dr. Allen said about her own experience with couple’s testing was that it was done as a part of family planning. Since non-heterosexual couples do not engage in pro-creative sex, the family planning aspect is not a feature of the couple’s testing. So I think the fact that homosexual couples were receptive to it shows how much people’s perceptions of AIDS have changed in the last 30 years. From all that I learned about testing from Dr. Allen’s class, my perception of couple’s testing is positive, and I think it is an innovative and creative way to talk about sexual well being while simultaneously promoting HIV prevention. 

Although couple’s testing is cheaper than other intervention options, such as Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis, I’m not so sure that it will be able to be feasibly implemented to address the epidemic in the United States. The distribution of healthcare in the US is currently a disaster, and it is doubtful that healthcare professionals will have adequate time to counsel all the couples who would be interested in receiving such counseling. Then there’s also a matter of insurance and who would pay for the counseling. Insurance companies are not normally in the business of paying for preventative care, much less for preventative care that could lead to a life-threatening and long lasting condition that is still stereotyped by much of the heteronormative mainstream. So I think couple’s testing – be it for heterosexual or homosexual couples – is a great idea. I just seems to be rather difficult to implement. I would wage that the people who are most in need of it are the ones who do not have adequate access to healthcare and/or who are not economically stable and thus are unable to afford it.

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