Rape Survivors Should Be Given Access to PEP To Prevent HIV Transmission, Opinion Piece Says
Although giving a "rape survivor the option of forcing a suspect to be tested for HIV under court order would seem to be useful for the survivor's health and peace of mind," mandatory "HIV testing doesn't get rape survivors access to what they need most": post-exposure prophylaxis, Regan Hofmann, editor of POZ, writes in a Long Island Newsday opinion piece. "Forced testing of rape suspects for HIV, which would become a choice for women in New York state under a bill" under consideration by Gov. Eliot Spitzer (D), is "one of the worst ways to ensure that rape survivors avoid potential HIV infection," Hofmann writes. She adds that although supporters of the bill "argue that it gets important information into the hands of survivors," the "best information they can get is about the efficacy" of PEP, a 28-day course of antiretroviral drugs. "Rape survivors can't afford to wait for an indictment of a suspect to decide whether to take PEP," and they should not "make this critical health decision based on a potentially misleading HIV test result," according to Hofmann. Instead of the bill under consideration by Spitzer, New York needs a "law that allows all women who have been raped free access to PEP as soon as possible after an attack," Hofmann writes, concluding, "In a hospital, medical workers who are accidentally stuck with a needle are typically offered PEP immediately. Why should it be different for rape survivors?" (Hofmann, Long Island Newsday, 6/28).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.