Encouraging Teens To Receive HIV Test ‘Much Easier’ With Guarantee of Privacy, Editorial Says
Although "[p]ersauding teens to get tested for HIV/AIDS would be much easier if they could be sure their results would remain private," there currently is "no guarantee" of privacy, a Chicago Sun-Times editorial says.
According to the editorial, an Illinois law requires the Illinois Department of Public Health to notify school principals of students' HIV-positive status, and principals are then "free to tell" school nurses, teachers and the local superintendent. However, "well-meaning, yet chatty school officials have demonstrated a marked inability to keep students' HIV/AIDS status out of the realm of schoolyard gossip," the editorial says, adding that any teenager "would be turned off to testing knowing loose lips could lead to being ostracized or harassed by classmates."
A bill (HB 4314) introduced in the Illinois Legislature by Rep. Sara Feigenholtz (D) would remove the public health department requirement, the editorial says, adding that if the bill is passed, management of HIV/AIDS "would reside where it belongs: among physicians, children and their parents." The "urgency" of HIV testing is "often lost on teens who know nothing of the fearful climate around the advent of HIV/AIDS," the editorial says, concluding, "We cannot protect all teens who will likely grow into infected adults until we guard the privacy of the most vulnerable" (Chicago Sun-Times, 1/15).