Illinois: Governor Gets HIV Exam Bill
June 5, 2007
On Friday, the Illinois Senate ratified a bill that removes the requirement for written consent prior to HIV testing. Under the measure, which Gov. Rod Blagojevich is expected to sign, health care providers must still obtain verbal consent from patients or provide them with materials that make it clear the patient is getting tested and can opt out.
The bill reflects a national effort by CDC to make HIV testing more routine among people ages 13-64. By changing the law to conform with CDC's revised testing guidelines, the state clears a possible hurdle to accessing its share of $30 million in new federal funds for HIV testing efforts. Lawmakers and health officials hope it will also encourage more testing of the estimated 10,000 Illinois residents who are HIV-infected but do not know it.
A previous version of the bill came under fire from several groups who feared it would weaken safeguards that prevent doctors from testing patients for HIV without their knowledge. But lawmakers, the state Department of Public Health, and groups like the American Civil Liberties Union worked together to produce a piece of legislation that eliminates testing hurdles while increasing penalties for violating patients' rights. A key provision of the measure is the doubling of fines up to $10,000 for clinics or doctors who violate a patient's right to consent or privacy, said David Munar of the AIDS Foundation of Chicago.
"Some organizations really just wanted a say because they've had a stake in this issue for a long time. We pulled all the stakeholders together," Rep. LaShawn Ford (D-Chicago) said of the final bill, which received unanimous approval in both houses of the General Assembly.
6.5.2007; Jeremy Manier
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