Illinois Gov. Blagojevich Signs Bill That Would Remove Written Consent Requirement for HIV Tests
Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) on Wednesday signed into law a bill (HB 980) that would remove a state requirement that people receiving HIV tests provide written consent prior to undergoing the test, the Chicago Tribune reports (Garcia, Chicago Tribune, 6/28). A previous version of the bill drew criticism from groups concerned it would weaken safeguards that prevent doctors from giving people HIV tests without their knowledge. The final version of the bill -- created after talks among lawmakers, public health officials and advocacy groups -- eliminates barriers to testing while increasing penalties for violating patients' privacy or right to consent (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 6/6).
Under the new law, once people consent to HIV tests, they will receive pretest information about the virus and how to interpret the results. People who test HIV-positive must be informed about the results in person, and doctors are required to provide counseling and medical references. People also can decline the tests, according to the Tribune.
Blagojevich said that the new law is an "important step in the fight against HIV and AIDS." Rep. Greg Harris (D) said that although the law will make HIV testing more routine and increase early detection, prevention efforts are still important. "We can't deceive ourselves that we can test our way out of the epidemic," he said, adding, "We must also teach our way out" (Chicago Tribune, 6/28).