On April 11, the Massachusetts House enacted “An Act To Increase Routine Screening of HIV.” This bill would modernize the Commonwealth’s HIV testing laws by replacing the need for written consent before an HIV test can be administered with verbal consent. The Senate version of this bill was passed on March 1. Gov. Deval Patrick is expected to sign the bill into law.
AIDS Action Committee President and CEO Rebecca Haag issued the following statement in response to the House action:
“AIDS Action Committee has long supported expanded HIV testing in Massachusetts, and this bill will help make that happen. There are an estimated 25,000 to 27,000 people living with HIV/AIDS in Massachusetts, but approximately 21% of them are unaware that they are HIV positive according to estimates by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. We cannot end the AIDS epidemic in Massachusetts if those who are HIV positive are unaware of their status. Increased HIV testing will help get those infected into care and treatment earlier and will result in better health outcomes and lower healthcare costs for those who are living with HIV.
“We are grateful to House Speaker Robert DeLeo, whose leadership made passage of this bill possible. We are also grateful to state Representative and Public Health Committee Chair Jeffrey Sanchez, and state Representatives Byron Rushing and Carl Sciortino for their commitment to and advocacy on this important issue.”
“Massachusetts has long been a national leader in the fight against AIDS. New diagnoses of HIV have declined by 54% since 1999 which will result in $2B savings in health care costs. However, many challenges remain. Too many people aren’t engaging in care and treatment until late in their disease state; stigma attached to HIV/AIDS status remains strong in many communities; and fewer resources are available to those infected, affected, and at risk for HIV. The AIDS Action Committee is committed to working with clinicians, patients, families, and advocates to reduce other barriers that stand in the way of ending this epidemic. Today is a huge step forward in achieving our goals.”