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U.S. News

Bill to Simplify HIV Testing Consent in New York Does Not Go Far Enough, Some Advocates Say

April 16, 2009

A lawmaker in New York state has proposed a bill that aims to simplify HIV testing consent requirements, the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle reports. According to the Democrat and Chronicle, some minority groups are opposing the legislation because the paperwork it still requires could pose a barrier for minorities, who are disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS. The groups say the permission requirement should be removed altogether.

The legislation would require that people ages 18 to 64 be offered an HIV test in emergency departments, outpatient clinics and community health centers. It also would streamline the consent process for HIV tests by eliminating a written consent requirement and instead requiring patients to check a box on a general medical consent form. The legislation would require the state to develop a standard form to be used by all health care providers.

A number of AIDS groups support the bill, including the AIDS Service Center New York City and the Brooklyn AIDS Task Force. The National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS, the Harlem United Community AIDS Center, the Latino Commission on AIDS and more than 70 other organizations and community leaders have signed a memo opposing the legislation.

Each additional document included in the process affects a physician's already limited time with a patient, Joshua Lipsman, Westchester County health commissioner, said. Many private physician offices do not use general medical consent forms that could be combined with an HIV test permission form, he added. Lipsman added that he is working with lawmakers on an alternate bill.

"What we're saying is routine testing is when you go to a doctor and get a blood work-up, and HIV should be among those (illnesses) tested," C. Virginia Fields, CEO and president of the NBLCA, said.

Catherine Abate -- president CEO of the Community Healthcare Network, which has nine health centers in New York City and completes about 18,000 HIV tests annually -- said the organization has not found informed consent to be a barrier to HIV testing.

Assembly Health Committee Chair Richard Gottfried (D) said some parts of the paperwork process might be cumbersome, but the legislation allows for people to be tested while maintaining important patient protections (Matthews, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, 4/12).

Reprinted with permission from You can view the entire Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, search the archives, or sign up for email delivery at The Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report is published for, a free service of the Kaiser Family Foundation, by The Advisory Board Company. © 2009 by The Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.

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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.
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