Maine Lawmakers Vote Against Bill To Include HIV Status in Shared Medical Records
The House Health and Human Services Committee in Maine last week voted against a bill that would have included a patient's HIV status in medical information shared between health care providers, the Bangor Daily News reports (Miller, Bangor Daily News, 2/5). The proposal, which would have overturned an existing law that requires patients to sign separate consent forms to include their HIV status with other shared medical information, was submitted Wednesday by Rep. Wright Pinkham (R) on behalf of constituent John Bertl. Speaking to the committee, Bertl said that the current law creates an unnecessary burden on health care providers, who must search patient records to redact references to HIV status. He also said that the current law is followed inconsistently.
According to the Daily News, the majority report of the state's 21-member HIV Advisory Committee, the Maine Human Rights Commission and the Maine AIDS Alliance opposed the measure. While testifying before the committee, Mathew Twomey -- HIV Advisory Board Committee member and laboratory manager at Central Maine Medical Center -- said, "We have a lot more work to do to remove the stigma of HIV among the general population. Until that time, we must protect the privacy of HIV test results and be sure that each and every person tested has the opportunity to either release or protect that information at his or her discretion" (Haskell, Bangor Daily News, 2/4).