Policy & Politics
South Carolina: Bills Would Test Accused Rapists Sooner for HIV, Hepatitis
April 14, 2011
The Legislature has passed two separate but similar bills that would enable survivors of sexual assault to require that their attackers be tested for HIV and hepatitis B within 48 hours of being charged or indicted.
The Senate and House passed their versions of the bill on March 31 and April 8, respectively. They will have to agree on a final version before sending it to Gov. Nikki Haley.
Currently, screening for HIV and hepatitis B is performed only after a defendant is convicted of rape, which can take years. The quicker that testing can be performed, the earlier a survivor can begin treatment, if needed. "The more quickly we can have that information, the more quickly we can medically treat the crime victim," said Laura Hudson, executive director of the S.C. Crime Victims' Council.
Hudson said she has heard critics maintain that forced testing of persons accused of sexual assault violates their right against self-incrimination. However, police can force alleged drunk drivers to have their blood tested for alcohol prior to a conviction, she said. A charge or indictment of rape could amount to probable cause for testing, she said.
"And also, we have a law that if you knowingly transmit a sexually transmitted disease, it's a 10-year felony," Hudson noted. "So it's of use to the victim, the prosecutor and law enforcement to know that as quickly as possible."
The measures are S. 568 and H. 3679.
04.11.2011; Robert Kittle
This article was provided by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update. Visit the CDC's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.
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