Contagion Live News Network: The Uphill Battle for Mass Testing


A quick summary of the day's infectious disease headlines.

Hello and thank you for joining Contagion. I’m assistant editor Grant Gallagher, here with a review of our COVID-19 coverage from May 12, 2020.

There has been heated debate about how much testing is necessary to reopen as lockdown restrictions are lifted. The focus is often on production of as many millions of tests as possible. But there’s a factor that doesn’t often enter this conversation. That factor is a labor shortage.

Today we shared an interview with Dr. Rodney E. Rohde, a medical laboratory scientist from Texas State. Dr. Rohde talked to me about the need for more trained specialists able to accurately conduct SARS-CoV-2 testing. Few in medical school are aware of this vocational pathway, but thoe who pursue it are educated on a unique branch of medical knowledge and play a pivotal role in controlling infectious diseases in pandemic times or otherwise.

We also shared the reults of a recent study on COVID-19 contact tracing. Contact tracing allows epidemiological response by not only notifying people of exposure so they can self-quarantine, but also understanding potential exposure dynamics that allowed for disease transmission in the first place. Identifying these hotspots allows contact tracing to make an impact without having to take on the impossible task of tracking every new case of a virus which has infected more than 4 million people globally.

In other infectious disease news, a recent study suggests that conversations about PrEP with a clinician are the least common among adolescents with the greatest risk for HIV. One factor behind the limited uptake of PrEP in the United States is a predicament called the purview paradox.

The “purview paradox” refers to a contradiction in which primary care physicians consider pre-exposure prophylaxis to be beyond their purview, but experienced HIV care specialists tend to work in contexts where patients are already living with HIV.

The purview paradox is particularly present in adolescent HIV prevention. Primary care physicians may doubt the ability of their patients to adhere to a daily medication, have legal concerns about whether sexual health services can be kept confidential from parents, or may have reservations when discussing a younger patient’s sexual activity. We reported on a recent review published in JAMA Pediatrics that examined this issue and offered recommendations for improving clinician engagement with adolescent HIV prevention.

For more on all of these stories and other infectious disease news, visit For Contagion, I’m Grant Gallagher, thanks for watching.

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