Mass. Gov.’s Plan Provides ‘Illusory Help’ in Curbing Spread of HIV to Sexual Assault Survivors, Opinion Piece Says
Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney's (R) proposal to require "on-demand" HIV testing for suspects accused of rape or sexual assault if the survivor requests it only would provide "illusory help" in reducing the transmission of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases, Jean McGuire, former assistant commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, and Michael Wong, chair of the board of directors of the AIDS Action Committee of Massachusetts, write in a Boston Globe opinion piece (McGuire/Wong, Boston Globe, 1/28). Romney's proposal, which he filed in the state Legislature earlier this month, would allow rape or sexual assault survivors to request the HIV tests if the alleged assailant has been indicted for or formally charged with the crime. The bill also would require the Massachusetts Office for Victim Assistance to form a proposal for keeping testing information confidential (Kaiser Daily Women's Health Policy Report, 1/6). Resources to fund Romney's proposal "would be better spent providing quality services" to survivors, including expanding access to the state's Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner program, the reimbursement mechanisms for post-exposure prophylactic treatment and the "support needed to guide patients through various treatment regimens," according to McGuire and Wong. "[C]riminalizing HIV by linking it to rape sends out mixed, confusing and misleading messages, and obscures the reality of HIV transmission ... deliberately pit[ting] civil liberties and survivors' rights against each other serves only to inflame and divide," McGuire and Wong write (Boston Globe, 1/28).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.