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U.S. News

HIV Testing Proposal in NYC Receives Mixed Reviews

March 28, 2006

A Bronx town hall panel and forum held March 22 gave mixed reviews for a proposed state measure that would ease HIV testing and medical privacy restrictions. Some AIDS advocates said the proposal, drafted by New York City Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, is more encompassing than his earlier statements had led them to believe.

The proposal to allow oral consent for HIV testing, in place of the written consent now required, states: "In order for there to be informed consent, the person ordering the test shall at a minimum advise the protected individual that an HIV test is being performed."

"Merely informing a person that they will get an HIV test should not be sufficient for consent," said panelist Lisa Winters, executive director of the Bronx Consortium, a lesbian and gay health and community center.

The proposal would also allow state and city health departments to use patient information it already collects, such as T-cell count and viral load, to offer treatment assistance to physicians and patients. The measure also asks for "additional information concerning" HIV-positive clients of Medicaid programs, including the AIDS Drug Assistance Program, COBRA case management, and the city's HIV/AIDS Service Administration.

"Your tracking will further stigmatize poor black and brown people," an audience member said. Frieden replied: "The intent of the legislation is not to get community-based organizations to rat on people."

"As a primary care provider, I can't tell you how invaluable" lifting restrictions on health departments' ability to share data is, said panelist Paloma Izquierdo-Hernandez, president of Urban Health Plan, a Bronx AIDS group. Panelist Levern Jackson, a nurse practitioner at North Bronx Healthcare Network, supported easing HIV testing rules. "Every year the statistics rise," Jackson said. "HIV testing should be offered to everyone."

Back to other news for March 28, 2006

Adapted from:
Gay City News (New York)
03.23.06; Duncan Osborne

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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
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