September 7, 2011
A bill to improve young people's access to preventive STD care has advanced to Gov. Jerry Brown following passage by the state Legislature.
AB 499 would allow youths ages 12-17 to receive medical care to prevent infection with STDs. These services include vaccination against hepatitis B virus and human papillomavirus, the cause of most cases of cervical cancer, and post-exposure prophylaxis to prevent HIV infection.
"This bill will prevent adolescents from contracting life-threatening illnesses," said Assembly member Toni Atkins (D-San Diego), the bill's author. "It doesn't make sense to leave out medical care to prevent STDs while allowing minors to access treatment after they've already been exposed."
A California law on the books for more than 50 years permits youths ages 12-17 to consent to STD diagnosis and treatment; however, it makes no mention of preventive services, since these have been developed more recently.
Many other states -- Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Montana, North Carolina, South Carolina, South Dakota, and the District of Columbia -- already have acted to close similar gaps in preventive services.
AB 499 was sponsored by the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the Health Officers Association of California, and the California STD Controllers Association.