Mar. 1, 2012
BOSTON — The Massachusetts Senate passed a bill on Thursday aimed at expanding the testing for HIV in the state.
Massachusetts is one of only two states that currently requires written consent before patients receive an HIV test. Advocates say that requirement discourages testing. The bill passed in the Senate would eliminate the need for patients to give written consent. Instead, the bill calls only for verbal consent.
The sponsor of the bill, Sen. Patricia Jehlen (D-Somerville), said the measure would help curb the spread of HIV/AIDS.
“When this happened in San Francisco there was a study that found [a] 44 percent increase in testing and they found an even greater increase in the number of diagnoses and case detections,” she said.
But the Massachusetts Medical Society said the bill wouldn't go far enough. The group, representing about 23,000 doctors, said that HIV testing shouldn’t require any special written or verbal consent and that tests for HIV should be handled like other infectious disease.
GLAAD, a group that advocates for the gay and lesbian community,supported the bill but believes HIV is not the same as other diseases, saying that people with HIV still experience discrimination.
The bill now heads to the House.
> > EXTRA: Read the Senate bill.
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