Policy & Politics
Illinois: Compromise HIV Testing Bill Passes House
May 25, 2007
The Illinois House has voted 114-0 to approve a bill making voluntary HIV testing easier. Sponsored by Rep. LaShawn Ford (D-Chicago), HB 980 would allow patients to consent verbally to HIV screening and have health care providers provide them with information to make an informed pre-test decision. The current, decades-old state law requires written consent for HIV testing.
Ford's bill, informed by advice from groups including the AIDS Foundation of Chicago (AFC) and Illinois Department of Public Health, now faces Senate deliberation. The compromise bill drops a provision that would have eliminated consent and pre-test information. Patients have the right to refuse testing; penalties for violations of that right are doubled.
"We can't test our way out of this epidemic" or eliminate HIV's stigma by making testing easier, said John Peller of AFC. "We know HIV stigma is real and discrimination against those with HIV is real," said Ann Hilton Fisher of the AIDS Legal Council of Chicago. "People should test when they are ready to test."
"We believe individuals still need to understand the process, the risks, the information," said Peller. "It's important to get correct and accurate information about HIV," particularly given that HIV/AIDS myths still exist, he said. "This will make big strides in those undiagnosed Illinoisans."
In addition, the HIV/AIDS Lottery Bill to help fund HIV prevention and education efforts passed the House by a 66-49 vote. Brought forward by Rep. Karen Yarbrough (D-Maywood) and co-sponsored by 30 House members, HB 315 was referred for Senate consideration.
Windy City Times (Chicago)
05.23.2007; Amy Wooten
This article was provided by Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. It is a part of the publication Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report. Visit the Kaiser Family Foundation's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.