Florida Bill Strengthening Requirement that Judges Report HIV Test Results of Alleged Sex Offenders Signed Into Law
Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) on Monday signed into law a bill (SB 2158) that will strengthen the rights of alleged victims of sexual assault with respect to HIV notification, the Miami Herald reports. Under existing state law, judges are required to order an HIV test on an alleged sex offender if bodily fluids were exchanged during the assault. Judges are then required to share the test results with the alleged victim. However, some judges did not appear to be complying with the law, according to Ron Book, one of the state's "most influential lobbyists." Book's 17-year-old daughter, Lauren, was allegedly sexually assaulted over a period of five years by a former housekeeper. Broward Circuit Judge Ilona Holmes ordered the housekeeper to be tested for HIV but never disclosed the results of the test to the Book family, prompting Book to lobby the Legislature to strengthen the state's sex offense laws. Lauren has so far tested negative for HIV, but Book said his family will not "rest easy" until they know the results of the housekeeper's test. One of the law's provisions requires judges to order HIV tests of alleged sex offenders and disclose the results to the victim within two weeks after receiving them (Andron/Clark, Miami Herald, 4/23). The provision notes that early HIV diagnosis is a "critical factor" in treatment and states that denying or delaying victims' access to test results "causes unnecessary mental anguish in persons who have already suffered trauma." The second provision requires HIV testing to be carried out, regardless of whether bodily fluids have been exchanged, if the victim is a minor or an elderly or disabled adult. HIV testing is to be administered under the direction of the state Department of Health, and results "shall not be admissable in any criminal or juvenile proceeding arising out of the alleged offense." The law takes effect on July 1 (SB 2158 text, 4/23).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.