June 19, 1998
Ronald Johnson, Managing Director of Public Policy, Communications and Community Relations for Gay Men's Health Crisis, released the following statement:
The Legislature's vote in favor of mandatory, government-conducted HIV partner notification makes today a day of infamy in the fight against AIDS in New York State. Rather than dealing with the complex realities and real-life implications of HIV, pusillanimous poll-gazing politicians have played a reckless game in Albany -- and New Yorkers with HIV and those affected by it have lost.
New York doesn't need the Mayersohn bill because partner notification programs are already in place throughout the state. Instead, what's imperative is finding a way of getting the tens of thousands of New Yorkers who are HIV infected but don't know it tested and get into care as soon as possible. The Mayersohn bill accomplishes neither.
The New York State Assembly has for many years been the bulwark against unsound or repressive AIDS policies. With the passage of this bill, however, it seems poised to return us to the dark ages of the AIDS epidemic, when ignorance, fear and discrimination surrounding the disease were rife.
We hope Governor Pataki will recognize the dangerous implications of the Mayersohn bill and we urge him to veto it immediately. Whatever politicians do, we at GMHC and other AIDS advocates will continue to devote ourselves to ensuring that HIV testing for people in this state and beyond are available for them, free from coercion.