CA: Controversial HIV Testing Bill in Committee Hearing Wednesday
Wednesday Mad Professah will be spending the day in lovely Sacramento, CA attending a hearing by the California State Senate Health Committee chaired by out lesbian State Senator Sheila J. Kuehl which will be considering AB 682 (Berg), a controversial bill to drastically alter procedures for conducting HIV tests in the state of California.
Previously I blogged about the bill when a story about the battle to amend the bill hit the pages of the local LGBT media and discussed the ongoing battle of state legislatures to implement the U.S. Center for Disease Control’s misguided revised recommendations on HIV testing the federal agency issued in September 2006.The issue pits large AIDS service organizations like AIDS Project Los Angeles, AIDS Healthcare Foundation and the L.A. Gay and Lesbian Services Center against groups staunchly protective of civil rights (like the American Civil Liberties Union, Lambda Legal, etc) and smaller AIDS organizations like Being Alive Los Angeles, HIV/AIDS Legal Services Alliance and Center for Health Justice. The groups in the first camp think that an “HIV test should be just like a cholesterol test” and that “all mental barriers to HIV testing should be removed” while the groups in the second camp think that in no way does society or the law treat being HIV positive like having high cholesterol and that there is a long-standing constitutional doctrine enshrined in California jurisprudence called “informed consent” which this bill attempts to nullify. It is clear that AB 682 goes much further than Illinois’ recently enacted law would go in modifying HIV testing protocols and does not conform with the CDC’s recommendations themselves which stimulated the legislative activity or with the 15 guiding principles of HIV testing announced by a wide coalition of groups on national HIV Testing day as recently as 2 weeks ago.
Mad Professah will be attending the hearing representing Being Alive Los Angeles. We’re asking that the bill be amended so that whenever a person conducts an HIV test they have to make a notation in the medical chart that the person consented to the test and the consent was informed consent (which can be done through the distribution of an information sheet about the HIV test); that protections against using HIV tests to discriminate in the provision of medical services be strengthened; that the effect of AB 682 be studied to see if it increases the percentage of people who take HIV tests and that people who test HIV-positive have their results told in person and not through any telephonic or electronic medium and are immediately counselled and linked to treatment and care. The current version of AB 682 eliminates the current state requirement for both pre- and post-test counselling when conducting HIV tests.
I’ll try and report back later on today to let you know how it goes. It should be interesting to see the public health policy of the state of California determined rihgt before my eyes…