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Commentary & Opinion
Editorial, Opinion Piece Discuss Issues Related to Routine HIV Testing

July 6, 2009

A recent directive to streamline the HIV testing consent process in Massachusetts as well as consent forms "no longer hav[ing] to accompany test specimens to the lab," are bringing "the state closer to a CDC recommendation that clinicians provide HIV screening on an opt-out basis," according to a Boston Globe editorial. "The opt-out provision is at the heart" of legislation sponsored by state Sen. Patricia Jehlen (D) that would end the state’s requirement of written consent for HIV testing "and instead have healthcare providers inform patients verbally that the test is planned but that they can decline it," the editorial states, adding, "The Jehlen bill would help destigmatize HIV testing itself" (7/6).

Separately, an opinion piece in the Detroit Free Press -- by David Share, medical director of the Corner Health Center and senior associate medical director of health care quality at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and Sandro Cinti, a clinical assistant professor in the Department of Internal Medicine at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor -- supports a Michigan bill (HB 4583) that would eliminate the written informed consent requirement in that state and replace it with a pamphlet and an informational opt-out form. Share and Cinti write of the current requirements, "These extraordinary precautions provide no protection, are not needed, and distract patients and health care professionals from other services and treatments that have the potential to improve patients' well-being," adding,"Routine HIV testing should be encouraged for early diagnosis and treatment of HIV infection" (Share/Cinti, 7/2).

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