California Assembly Passes Bill To Encourage Routine HIV Testing
The California Assembly on Monday unanimously passed a bill (AB 682) aimed at increasing the number of people tested for HIV in the state, the Los Angeles Times reports. Instead of providing written consent for HIV tests, patients under the bill routinely would receive the tests from doctors and hospitals unless they decline to be tested.
"This bill is about saving lives," Assembly member Patty Berg (D), who sponsored the bill, said, adding, "Many doctors now don't test because they need informed consent." Getting informed consent is "just one more thing they have to go through, and so docs sort of shy away from that," Berg said, adding, "But this [bill] makes it part of your normal annual exam." Michael Weinstein -- president of AIDS Healthcare Foundation, which sponsored the measure -- called the legislation the "most important change in public HIV/AIDS policy in years." AHF estimates about 40,000 California residents are unaware that they are HIV-positive. Assembly member Bonnie Garcia (R) said she co-wrote the bill to help reach the Hispanic and black women who account for many new HIV cases in the state. "When you look at the face of AIDS today, it could be your mother, your grandmother, it could be your daughter," she said, adding, "I would hope we would maximize the opportunity when we have their attention in the doctor's office."
The bill now goes to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R), who has not taken a public position on it (Rau, Los Angeles Times, 9/11).
Schwarzenegger Signs Bill That Would Allow HIV-Positive Men To Have Sperm Washed, Used for Fertility Treatments
In related news, Schwarzenegger on Tuesday signed into law a bill (SB 443) that allows HIV-positive men to have their sperm washed and used for fertility treatments, the Los Angeles Times reports (Halper/Vogel, Los Angeles Times, 9/12). The bill allows the washed sperm to be used in treatments such as artificial insemination and in vitro fertilization under certain guidelines. The state in 1989 began prohibiting HIV-positive people from donating sperm, blood or tissue in an attempt to curb the spread of the virus. The law has prevented HIV-positive men from using reproductive technologies that lower the risk of transmitting HIV to their partners.
The bill, sponsored by state Sen. Carole Migden (D), allows couples that include HIV-positive men to use reproductive technology under the following guidelines: the HIV-positive donor's sperm is processed to minimize the risk of HIV transmission; informed mutual consent has occurred; and the American Society for Reproductive Medicine recognizes the sperm processing procedures. Of the 3,800 reported cases outside California in which couples with an HIV-positive man have used reproductive technology, not one case of HIV transmission has been reported, according to Deborah Cohan, medical director of the Bay Area Perinatal AIDS Center (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 8/30).