Policy & Politics
Rep. Waters Introduces Bill That Would Require Federal Prisons to Provide HIV Tests for Inmates, Allow Inmates to Opt Out
September 12, 2006
Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) last week introduced a bill (HR 6038) that would require federal prisons to provide HIV tests for inmates at the beginning and end of their incarcerations, The Hill reports. The bill includes a provision that would allow inmates to opt out of testing. Waters included the opt-out provision to address concerns from some HIV/AIDS advocates who say they oppose mandatory testing because of issues associated with confidentiality and stigma, according to The Hill. Waters said that despite the provision, some HIV/AIDS advocates might feel some "discomfort" with the bill, adding, "There's a division among the AIDS groups. I'm moving beyond where they would normally want to go." Under guidelines released in June by the Department of Justice's Bureau of Prisons, prisoners can request HIV tests, and prison medical workers are encouraged to conduct tests among inmates who exhibit symptoms of HIV. Under a 2005 policy statement issued by the bureau, HIV tests are mandatory in some cases, and prisoners cannot refuse to be tested. Waters said the current policy is "not very comprehensive," adding that under her bill, more prisoners would be tested and receive better care in prison and when they are released. Under Waters' bill, the bureau would be required to direct former inmates to treatment and counseling resources in their communities.
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Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, search the archives, or sign up for email delivery at www.kaisernetwork.org/dailyreports/hiv. The Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of the Kaiser Family Foundation, by The Advisory Board Company. © 2006 by The Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.
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