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U.S. News

West Virginia Advances Bill to Charge for HIV Testing

March 11, 2013

With pressure from lessening federal funds driving their actions, the West Virginia Senate pushed forward a bill on March 7 that would allow local health departments to charge individuals fees for STD testing. According to Loretta Haddy, director of epidemiology with the state's Department of Health and Human Resources, for the state to deliver basic public health services, legislation must be amended to allow local departments to charge for delivery services. Haddy explained that, due to budget cuts and the coming Affordable Care Act, states are moving to transfer costs to insurers. Currently, anyone in West Virginia can receive free STD testing and treatment at local health departments; however, throughout the last two years, the state has lost approximately $617,000 in federal funding for its HIV/AIDS program as the federal government has shifted money to other states with higher HIV rates. Despite the funding cuts, local health departments have continued to provide services free of charge; under the proposed bill, they would charge individuals for STD testing but continue to provide free or reduced-cost testing and treatment for those who are uninsured.

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Reader Comments:

Comment by: Another perspective? Wed., Mar. 13, 2013 at 1:43 am EDT
Routine HIV testing without regard for behavioral interventions or what people do after a positive result is a major problem. That we've continued to fund these tests in spite of thousands actually going without life saving drugs is one of the many bizarre aspects of how this disease is treated. The test has become an end in and of itself, celebrated at the expense of actual care and prevention, and has been abused by some notable groups to transform negative status into a commodity. A (reasonable) copay may actually reverse this trend, and turn it back into a diagnostic tool for a disease, rather than a smug little badge for idiots. If that's an unexpected consequence of austerity, I say the republicans may actually be onto something.
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