Florida Should Test All Prisoners for STDs, Including HIV, Editorial States
The Florida Legislature should provide funds to test and treat all state prisoners who are nearing release for sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV, a South Florida Sun-Sentinel editorial states. The initiative, which would cost about $2 million a year, is a "good start in curbing the growing problem of debilitating diseases that currently fester in Florida's jails and prisons," it continues. Prison health officials can now only screen inmates for STDs if the inmate requests the test, becomes "seriously ill" or is "caught having sex." This lack of universal testing is "about as smart as having sex without protection," because STD rates in prisons exceed the rates in the general public and an infected inmate "poses a danger to society" upon his or her release, the editorial states, noting that Florida saw a 5% increase in AIDS-related deaths in 1999. State Rep. Frederica Wilson (D) has filed a draft bill, her third attempt, to require testing, treatment and counseling for all inmates. "Her fellow lawmakers should support her effort by passing and funding the measure," the editorial concludes, adding that $2 million a year might seem like a lot of money, "but [it's] still a small price to pay for a program that would help slow the spread of diseases, including AIDS, once prisoners are on the outside" (South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 8/20).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.