New York: City Fast-Tracking HIV Legislation
March 22, 2006
New York City's Health Commissioner is close to sending a draft of proposed legislation to state lawmakers that seeks to ease HIV testing consent and ensure the quality of HIV treatment, the health department and legislators said recently. In a March 13 e-mail, the department confirmed the draft could be finished in the next week or two.
Dr. Thomas R. Frieden outlined reasons for the measure last year in a New England Journal of Medicine editorial. Frieden proposed allowing patients to give verbal consent for HIV testing, rather than the written consent required now. He also proposed allowing the health department to use medical data, including viral load and T-cell counts, to ensure that patients are receiving adequate treatment. The city department collects such data but cannot use it due to state law.
Frieden has met with the legislature's black and Latino caucuses and moved to shore up support from newspapers, AIDS organizations, community groups and other stakeholders. The department is also planning town meetings about the proposals, at least one in each borough.
"Unless the HIV community is comfortable with this legislation, you would expect quite a few members of the Legislature to be opposed," said Assemblymember Richard N. Gottfried (D-New York County District 64).
Still, no legislation can move until the budget is completed for the fiscal year beginning April 1, and lawmakers have been very late in passing one for the last two decades. And other agenda items may eclipse Frieden's proposed legislation, said Sen. Thomas K. Duane (D-New York County District 29), who was an early skeptic of the proposal, citing patient privacy and consent issues. "I think there is too much potential in some settings for oral consent to end up being no consent and records being made of consent that are not honest," he said.
Gay City News (New York)
03.16.06; Duncan Osborne
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.