Arkansas Senate Approves Bill That Would Require Prison Inmates To Receive HIV Test Before Release
The Arkansas Senate on Monday voted 35-0 to approve a bill (HB 1444) that would require state inmates to receive HIV tests before being released, the AP/Pine Bluff Commercial reports (DeMillo, AP/Pine Bluff Commercial, 3/6). Arkansas Rep. Fred Allen (D) in February introduced a version of the bill that would have required inmates to undergo tests for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections before being paroled. The House public health committee previously tabled the bill but endorsed it after Allen amended the proposed legislation to require only HIV tests for all inmates being released, not just those being paroled. Allen also removed a requirement from the original bill that all Arkansas Department of Correction employees receive an HIV test. In addition, the amended version requires inmates who test positive to be provided with counseling on treatment options. Allen said the tests would cost the state about $34,000 annually, adding that the test would not be a condition for parole (Kaiser Health Disparities Report, 3/1). The bill returns to the House for members to consider amendments and then will go to Gov. Mike Beebe (D) (AP/Pine Bluff Commercial, 3/6).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.