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Policy & Politics

Maine: Bills Would Make HIV Tests More Common

March 15, 2007

This legislative session, Maine lawmakers are considering two bills that would make it easier to offer HIV testing as a routine part of health care.

Sen. Lisa Marraché (D-Waterville) has proposed a bill that would remove current requirements for written consent for HIV testing as well as pre- and post-test counseling. Under the proposal, patients would be able to opt out of testing in writing. The bill would also require health care providers to inform patients that samples are being taken for HIV testing, giving them a chance to decline.

Another bill, by Rep. Lisa Miller (D-Somerville), would allow for written or oral consent for testing and remove the pre-test counseling requirement. Positive test results would be given in person, and post-test counseling would remain mandatory.

Both bills are scheduled to go before the Health and Human Services Committee on Thursday.

The state HIV Advisory Committee supports Miller's bill and has unanimously rejected Marraché's. But Jean Lavigne, a committee member, said neither bill goes far enough to ensure that people are not tested without their consent. She said simplified consent forms, streamlined counseling, and the use of rapid-result tests are better ways to increase testing.

Mark Griswold, state HIV/AIDS epidemiologist, said an estimated 1,600 people in Maine are living with HIV, among whom only 1,100 know they are infected. About 40 percent of people newly diagnosed with HIV are diagnosed with AIDS within a year, meaning they had been infected but undiagnosed for a long time, he said.

Back to other news for March 15, 2007

Adapted from:
Portland Press Herald
03.14.2007; Ann S. Kim

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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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