Assemblywoman Holly Mitchell bills to encourage HIV testing pass first hurdles
Sacramento - Two bills introduced by Assemblymember Holly J. Mitchell (D-Culver City) to facilitate testing for HIV, the virus which causes AIDS, have won key committee votes on the path to becoming state law.
AB 446 facilitates HIV testing among hard-to-reach subjects by allowing personnel authorized to administer HIV tests to obtain simple written or verbal patient consents and to arrange for patients to confidentially obtain test results via a secure website. Additionally, AB 446 requires clinical facilities that draw blood from patients to screen it for HIV upon obtaining simple patient consent.
AB 506 encourages more effective HIV screening and treatment by allowing infants who are under the guardianship of a court to be tested at the request of a treating health professional or social worker, eliminating often protracted waits to obtain court orders for such testing. Recent developments in medical science have shown particularly effective results in infants when treated early.
As these bills were approved this week in the Judiciary Committee on bipartisan votes without dissent, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force issued an official recommendation that all people ages 15 to 65, as well as those younger or older in high risk groups, be screened for HIV. The advice came based on findings of the improved effectiveness of treatment when administered soon after exposure to the virus. The Task Force also estimated that 25% of those infected with HIV are unaware of their infected status and that approximately 50,000 new people are infected each year.
HIV infection continues to be epidemic and is rising among heterosexual women of color, noted Mitchell, whose district includes parts of South Los Angeles. We have to make it easier for those at highest risk to get tested so that treatment can begin earlier and HIV transmission can be reduced. Hopefully the call of the U.S. Task Force for nearly everyone to get tested will help these bills become law.
Contact: Charles Stewart, (310)482-1070