Illinois House Rejects Legislation That Would Have Repealed Act Requiring Students To Report Their HIV Status
The Illinois House on Tuesday voted 62-43 to reject a bill (HB 4314) that would have repealed a state act requiring students to report their HIV-positive status to school principals, the Springfield State Journal Register reports. Under the act, called the Communicable Disease Prevention Act, principals are permitted to disclose the identities of HIV-positive students to school nurses and the students' teachers. In addition, principals can disclose students' identities to people who, under federal or state law, are required to determine the students' placement or education program.
"As a parent, I want the school officials to have every bit of information that they can have in order to ensure public safety for all the kids," Rep. David Reis (R), who voted against the bill, said, adding, "If we want to do some bills to help to promote HIV testing, then let's do that. If my son is playing on the basketball court with another boy (who is HIV-positive) who has a bloody nose, we want to be able to in a polite way make sure the other kids don't get infected with HIV. We're talking about a lifelong virus that could be preventable if that principal knew that the child was HIV-positive."
Ann Hilton Fisher, executive director of the AIDS Legal Council of Chicago, said that lawmakers should make efforts to improve their awareness about HIV/AIDS. "HIV is not spread through playground accidents or bloody noses," Fisher said, "It just does not happen that way. Other diseases like hepatitis can be spread that way. Schools have been required since 1995 to use universal precautions in all such accidents."
Rep. Sara Feigenholtz (D), who sponsored the bill, said that she will try to revive the bill and provide lawmakers with education about the importance of repealing the act. "I don't think people have a full understanding of what youth is faced with and the stigma that still remains around HIV and the need to protect people's privacy around health issues," Feigenholtz said (Sexton, Springfield State Journal Register, 3/5).