New York State AIDS Advisory Council Passes Resolution That Recommends Eliminating Written Consent Requirement for HIV Tests
October 23, 2007
The New York State AIDS Advisory Council earlier this month voted 6-3 to pass a resolution that recommends eliminating the state's mandatory written consent law for HIV tests, saying that requiring only verbal permission would increase testing rates, the New York Sun reports (Solomont, New York Sun, 10/22).
According to the Sun, a "battle" between lawmakers and health advocates over whether to change the law is "heating up." Some HIV/AIDS advocates and elected officials say that the written consent requirement protects patients' rights and is the only way to guarantee that HIV testing is informed and consensual. "Having a note in a file of an oral consent does not provide the assurance needed that the person has given voluntary informed consent," Cynthia Knox, deputy executive director of the HIV Law Project, said. Others opposed to the resolution have said that it does not address certain issues, such as reducing stigma associated with receiving an HIV test or providing routine HIV counseling and testing.
State Sen. Thomas Duane (D), who is HIV-positive and a member of the advisory council, said he does not support the resolution. Duane added that he supports "increasing the number of people being tested" but believes the "best way to do it is by mandatory offering." Duane added that the written consent requirement should document consent and counseling and encourage health care providers to discuss HIV prevention with patients.
Sandra Ruiz Butter, chair of the advisory council, said that the need to encourage increased HIV testing overrides privacy concerns, adding that some medical providers say that they are "discouraged from making [HIV tests] a part of the regular medical care" because of "extensive requirements for the written consent." Butter added that "taking away the requirement for written consent in no way relieves people of the requirements for confidentiality." According to Claire Popisil, spokesperson for the New York State Department of Health, the department has not taken a position on the resolution and emphasized that the resolution is only a recommendation (New York Sun, 10/22).
Pop!Tech Launches Initiative Aimed at Deploying Software to Support HIV Education, Counseling in Africa
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.