Policy & Politics
House Judiciary Committee Approves Bill That Would Alter HIV Testing Requirements for Prison Inmates
July 26, 2007
The House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday approved by voice vote a bill (HR 1943) that would alter HIV testing requirements for federal prison inmates, CQ Today reports. Current federal law and Bureau of Prisons regulations require inmates sentenced to six months or more in prison to receive an HIV test if it is determined that they are at risk for the virus. The new bill is sponsored by Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) (Itkowitz, CQ Today, 7/25) .
Waters cited a Justice Department report that found the number of confirmed AIDS cases in prisons is three times higher than the general population. However, she said actual HIV rates in prisons are "unknown because prison officials do not consistently test prisoners" for the virus. "There is little knowledge about the lifestyles of those who enter our nation's prisons, and there is usually no official acknowledgement that sexual activity -- whether consensual or otherwise -- is taking place in prisons," she said.
Inmates scheduled for release would receive counseling, treatment referrals and a month's supply of any "medically necessary medications" they already were taking, according to the bill. Waters said that if prison inmates are "exposed to HIV in prison and then complete their sentences and return to society without knowing their HIV status, they could infect their spouse or other persons in their community" (CQ Today, 7/26). The bill was approved without amendments and sent to the full House (CongressDaily, 7/26).
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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.