Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Revolutionary HIV Testing Bill Passes

Bill to 'Revolutionize' HIV Testing Passes California Legislature Unanimously

AB 2899 (Portantino, D-Pasadena), Sponsored by AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), Overhauls Counseling Model for HIV Testing Programs; Bill Eliminates Outdated 'One Size Fits All' Approach for More Prudent Public Health Approach

SACRAMENTO, Calif.-- August 12, 2008 --AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the operator of the largest non-government HIV testing program in California, today praised the California Legislature for its passage this week of Assembly Bill 2899 (Portantino, D-Pasadena).

"AB 2899 will revolutionize the way we do HIV testing in California, and we strongly urge the Governor to sign this bill," said Michael Weinstein, President of AIDS Healthcare Foundation. "Today, in government-funded programs, extensive education and counseling is required for every person regardless of how many times they might have been tested. Treating the young person, who is testing for the first time the same as a person in their forties or fifties who has been tested dozens of times doesn't make sense. This important reform will allow AHF, the largest HIV tester in California, to do three times as many tests per hour as we do now. The unanimous approval of the legislature for this common sense approach to HIV testing is very encouraging."

The bill, known as the Sexually Transmitted Diseases and HIV/AIDS Counseling Reform Bill, unanimously cleared both chambers of the Legislature this week-clearing the California Assembly (64-0) earlier today after clearing the Senate in a 36 to 0 vote yesterday.

"This bill brings the requirements for HIV counseling in line with where we are today in our knowledge and understanding of HIV/AIDS and other STDs, and it will allow us to focus our counseling efforts where they are most needed-to those at high risk and those who may test positive," said Joey Terrill, Acting Director of Public Affairs for AIDS Healthcare Foundation, co-sponsor of the bill. "The California Legislature has recognized the importance of this prudent public health legislation with its unanimous passage in both chambers. When this bill is chaptered into law, it will allow the Department of Public Health and the State Office of AIDS far more flexibility in its counseling regulations to best serve and reflect the needs of communities throughout California."

AB 2899 codifies the changes that testing organizations need to conform their practices to current needs and to facilitate the swift introduction of newer counseling models by the Office of AIDS.

About AHF

AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) is the nation's largest non-profit HIV/AIDS healthcare provider. AHF currently provides medical care and/or services to more than 80,000 individuals in 20 countries worldwide in the US, Africa, Latin America/Caribbean and Asia. Additional information is available at www.aidshealth.org
Contacts

AIDS Healthcare Foundation
Ged Kenslea, 323-860-5225
Mobile: 323-791-5523
gedk@aidshealth.org
or
Lori Yeghiayan, 323-860-5227
Mobile: 323-377-4312
lori.yeghiayan@aidshealth.org

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