Michigan: Bill Aims to Remove HIV Test Barrier
April 9, 2010
The Michigan House of Representatives recently voted 109-0 to approve a bill to make HIV testing easier.
Sponsored by Rep. Roy Schmidt (D-Grand Rapids), the measure would eliminate the state requirement that patients sign a separate consent form solely for HIV testing. Instead, the test would be covered under the consent for general medical care. Patients would retain the right to opt out of testing, and health care providers would still be required to discuss the test and treatment options with patients.
"The goal is to remove the testing barrier because the earlier we can diagnose the easier it is to treat the disease, and the less likely people unknowingly transmit the virus to other people," said Mimi Emig, an infectious-disease physician for Spectrum Health Medical Group, West Michigan's largest health system.
"I don't buy into the theory that it [separate consent] is a barrier to testing," said Rick Otterbein, legislative director for Michigan Positive Action Coalition, an HIV/AIDS patient advocacy group."Our biggest fear is that soon they won't bother with consent at all. The mandate makes certain [that] people know they're being tested and are provided information such as where they can get care if positive."
Groups supporting the measure include the LGBT advocacy group Triangle Foundation, the Michigan State Medical Society, and Beaumont Hospitals in Detroit.
The Michigan Health and Hospital Association supports the measure, said Chris Mitchell, its government-relations manager, because it comports with CDC's 2006 recommendation that"separate, written consent for HIV testing should no longer be required." MHHA believes a separate consent form for HIV screening can"needlessly cause HIV to go undetected and untreated," facilitating the virus' spread, Mitchell said.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan also supports the bill because it preserves patient consent and medical privacy, said Shelli Weisberg, the affiliate's legislative director.
Grand Rapids Press
04.04.2010; Monica Scott
This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.