Tennessee House Approves Bill Requiring People Convicted of Promoting Sex Work To Be Tested for HIV
The Tennessee House on Thursday voted 92-3 to approve a bill (HB 1775) that would require people convicted of promoting commercial sex work to be tested for HIV, the AP/Tennessean reports. The bill's sponsor, Rep. Ulysses Jones (D), said he proposed the measure after a Shelby County judge suggested that people convicted of promoting sex work should be tested for the virus, just as convicted sex workers and their clients are. Rep. Brian Kelsey (R) said the bill is unconstitutional because people convicted of promoting sex work usually are not "alleged to have engaged in any sexual activity" with sex workers. Rep. Rob Briley (D), chair of the House Judiciary Committee, said the bill does not infringe on individual rights because people are asked to do things after convictions that do not relate to the specific offense. "I think there's a rational basis to say [people convicted of pandering are] involved in that industry, and that industry is known for having a high percentage that have sexually transmitted diseases," Briley said, adding, "It's fair to ask them to be tested." Hedy Weinberg, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee, said that there are unanswered questions about the bill. "What is the public health rationale?" she asked, adding, "And equally as important, what safeguards are in place to protect the confidentiality of the test results?" The companion bill (SB 764) has not been heard in the Senate Judiciary Committee, the AP/Tennessean reports. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, if the bill is signed into law, it will be the first of its kind nationwide (Johnson, AP/Tennessean, 4/5).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.