HARRISBURG, Pa., April 29, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The American Academy of HIV Medicine (AAHIVM), the nation's leading HIV care provider organization, praised the Pennsylvania State Senate today for the passage of legislation sponsored by state Sen. Ted Erickson (R-26) that reduces barriers to routine HIV testing.
The passage of Senate Bill 260 eliminates burdensome requirements for separate written consent and pre-test counseling in order to obtain an HIV test and brings Pennsylvania state law on HIV testing more in line with current recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Currently, Pennsylvania is one of only five states in the U.S. that still mandates the inexpedient separate written consent and pre-test counseling requirements for HIV testing.
Members of AAHIVM's Pennsylvania Chapter participated in educational outreach to state Senate offices in recent weeks, focused on the need to reduce logistical barriers to clinicians and other providers implementing routine HIV testing in their practice. The participating AAHIVM Members emphasized routine testing as an important practice for identifying infected persons early in the disease so that they can be linked to lifesaving HIV treatment. People who are aware of their HIV status are also less likely to unknowingly transmit the disease to others.
"The passage of this Bill in the state Senate is a real victory for prevention," said Dr. Mary van den Berg-Wolf, MD, FACP, AAHIVS, and chair of the AAHIVM Pennsylvania steering committee. "By making testing for HIV less cumbersome, we will be able to identify more patients earlier, which leads to better health outcomes for the patient and reduces transmission."
CDC estimates that as many as 25 percent of all HIV-infected individuals are unaware they are HIV positive. An estimated 40 percent of individuals diagnosed with HIV develop AIDS within one year of their diagnosis – an indication that too many people are diagnosed far too late, and at a point when they may be unable to fully benefit from the remarkable advances we have made in the treatment of HIV disease.
The bill, which passed the Senate with a vote of 50 to 0, will now move on to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.
"We call on the Pennsylvania House to follow their Senate colleague in expeditiously passing this important legislation," said James M. Friedman, executive director of AAHIVM. "Our organization and Academy Members will continue to advocate for this legislation that is so vital to the health of all Pennsylvanians."
The American Academy of HIV Medicine is a professional organization that supports the HIV practitioner and promotes accessible, quality care for all Americans living with HIV disease.
SOURCE American Academy of HIV Medicine