OLYMPIA – A bill heard earlier this week in the Senate Health Care Committee would make screening for HIV a routine part of diagnostic and screening tests for all patients 13 to 64 years old and for all pregnant women in Washington state. The opt-out screening plan would align the state with guidelines the Centers for Disease Control released nearly a decade ago.
The bill also aligns with Gov. Jay Inslee’s proclamation on World AIDS Day to take bold actions to reduce the rate of new HIV diagnoses in Washington state by 50 percent by 2020.
“This bill is a big leap forward from the experiences of three decades of HIV response when there was a great amount of stigma attached to HIV testing,” said Sen. Jeannie Darneille, D-Tacoma, the bill’s sponsor. “At one time not so long ago secret and anonymous testing was the norm to protect people from insurance carriers who would cut health care benefits if it was known that a person was HIV positive. Today, we have protections in place – HIPAA laws and restrictions on insurance providers from excluding patients based on preexisting conditions. Our new norm is for early testing to assure easy access to medications that will save lives and lower the chance for infecting others.”
Senate Bill 5728 would allow patients to opt-out of HIV testing without risk of being denied health care services by their medical provider. New York State passed similar legislation in 2010.