New York Legislature Approves Measure Requiring Suspects Indicted for Rape To Be Tested for HIV
The New York Legislature on Thursday approved a measure that would require suspects indicted for rape to be tested for HIV, the Buffalo News reports (Precious, Buffalo News, 6/22). The state's current law requires HIV tests after conviction of rape. New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer (D) and some state lawmakers have been lobbying for the measure, but the measure has been a source of debate in the state Assembly. Supporters of the measure, which was submitted by the state Division of Criminal Justice Services, said that the measure would help rape survivors have access to all information about the virus before they decide whether to take antiretroviral drugs for post-exposure prophylaxis. However, some opponents said the bill might give rape survivors a false sense of security if suspects test negative, adding that survivors might stop taking antiretrovirals prematurely (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 5/25).
Michael Kink -- legislative counsel for Housing Works, the AIDS service and advocacy group -- said, "It's a misguided measure that actually threatens the health of rape survivors in order to score easy political points." However, Assembly member Nettie Mayersohn (D), who sponsored the bill, said, "What I'm trying to do is make people understand that this is not about civil liberties; it's about public health" (Hakim/Confessore, New York Times, 6/21).
Related Opinion Pieces
- Marjorie Hill, Albany Times-Union: The bill would "hurt" the "health of survivors of sexual assault, putting them at greater risk of contracting HIV," Hill, executive director of the Gay Men's Health Crisis, writes in a Times-Union opinion piece. She adds that the bill could "jeopardize lives by giving survivors false hope instead of medically sound information that would protect their health and well-being" (Hill, Albany Times-Union, 6/21).
- Alandra Mitchell, Albany Times-Union: The bill is upsetting for "many reasons, but first among them is that it fails to provide" post-exposure prophylaxis to rape survivors, Mitchell of Housing Works writes in a Times-Union opinion piece. She adds that the bill "focuses obsessively on the HIV status of the perpetrators of rape at the expense of their actual victims" (Mitchell, Albany Times-Union, 6/18).