Policy & Politics
Changes in Ohio Law; Hurdles to HIV Testing Removed
April 8, 2011
Many doctors remain unaware of changes made to Ohio's HIV testing law in 2009, prompting the state Department of Health to issue screening guidelines this past fall.
Previously, doctors had to conduct pre-test HIV consultations and obtain separate consent to test for the virus. When the results were in -- regardless of whether they were positive or negative -- doctors again had to consult with the patient. "Essentially, the patient had to get down on their knees and beg for the test," said Dr. Ron Reynolds, a Cincinnati provider who helped push for the change.
Under the new law, consultations are no longer mandatory and no separate consent is required. "An HIV test can now legitimately be handled just like a blood-sugar test or cholesterol test," said Reynolds.
Government-supported testing sites, including those at health departments, must still offer counseling after a negative test, said Bill Tiedemann, who runs the state health department's HIV prevention program. The law "doesn't reduce someone's confidentiality around their health information; what it does is reduce the barriers at the clinical level," he said.
Ohio State University Medical Center's Dr. Michael Para said HIV testing rates will rise when physicians become educated on the law. "We basically have to change physicians' ideas, and that happens slowly," he said.
The state health department last year was awarded a $1.18 million grant to expand HIV testing by 53,000 residents during a three-year period. Five emergency departments across Ohio will receive grant funds to support routine testing.
CDC reported last year that 55 percent of US adults, including 28 percent with a known risk factor, have not been tested for HIV. An estimated one in five Americans with HIV do not know they are infected.
04.04.2011; Misti Crane
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