Pennsylvania Eases Rules for HIV Testing
July 28, 2011
Reflecting a 2006 CDC recommendation that HIV screening be a routine part of health care, Pennsylvania has revised its testing law following two years of intense legislative debate and lobbying.
Beginning Sept. 6, pretest HIV counseling will no longer be mandated, and some test results now given in person can be delivered over the phone. However, the law, signed by Gov. Tom Corbett on July 7, states that "no positive test result shall be revealed ... without affording the ... immediate opportunity for individual, face-to-face counseling" about HIV and other health-related services.
Further, providers can inform patients orally or in writing that HIV testing will be conducted unless they decline or opt out. Currently, patient consent for testing must be in writing. Under the new law, verbal or written consent must be "documented" in the patient's health record.
"More than half of new infections are transmitted by people who don't know they're HIV-positive," said Dr. Mary van den Berg-Wolf, a Temple University Hospital HIV specialist who lobbied for the changes.
On Wednesday, van den Berg-Wolf and other advocates celebrated the amendment at a meeting with Corbett.
CDC estimates that about one in five Americans who have HIV are unaware of their infection.
Supporters of updating testing laws say treatment can also reduce the risk of HIV transmission; but treatment begins with a positive test result.
07.28.2011; Marie McCullough
This article was provided by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update. Visit the CDC's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.
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