South Carolina Legislature Upholds Governor’s Veto of HIV Notification Bill
South Carolina legislators on Wednesday during a special session upheld Gov. Mark Sanford's (R) veto of a bill that would modify regulations concerning HIV-positive students in the state, the AP/Augusta Chronicle reports. The House upheld the veto, which means that the Department of Health and Environmental Control will continue to inform nurses and superintendents when they have HIV-positive students at their schools (Adcox, AP/Augusta Chronicle, 6/25).
The bill, which Sanford vetoed earlier this month, would have required school nurses to inform the DHEC when any student in grades kindergarten through 12 has contact with another person's blood in order to determine if the student was exposed to bloodborne diseases such as HIV. Under the bill, DHEC also would have been required to notify school nurses if a student involved in incidents such as fights or sports injuries had HIV, hepatitis or any other bloodborne disease and would advise about medical treatment. Clinics and doctors' offices would have continued to inform DHEC of positive test results under the bill, which would have stipulated that the names of students living with the diseases be known only to DHEC (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 6/16).
Sen. Brad Hutto (D), the bill's sponsor, said that the measure was the only one taken up Wednesday that could save lives (Smith, Columbia State, 6/26). "Right now, these kids are not getting tested," Hutto said, adding, "They're just going out and spreading whatever they have. They're afraid somebody at school's going to find out, and everybody's going to find out."
Hutto added that school officials should assume that injured students are HIV-positive and use gloves as a precaution; however, other lawmakers said school nurses should know students' HIV status (AP/Augusta Chronicle, 6/25).