CONTACT: Seth Boffeli, (608) 266-1683
NEW LAW MAKES HIV TESTING EASIER
MADISON--State health officials today praised Governor Jim Doyle's
signing of Act 209 (Assembly Bill 659) as a long-overdue modernization of
state law governing HIV testing.
"This change will promote more routine HIV testing in health care
settings, earlier identification of infection and more timely medical care
for persons with HIV infection. It also strengthens patients' rights by
ensuring that patients who are HIV positive cannot be denied
treatment," said Karen Timberlake, Secretary of the Department of
Health Services. "In addition, this new law will reduce the time and
paperwork associated with HIV testing, which will lead to more people
Under the new law, a health care provider must notify the person that
he or she will be tested for HIV unless the person declines the test. The
fact that a person declines testing cannot be reason for denying someone
services or treatment. The new law also strengthens privacy provisions by
doubling the penalties for illegal disclosure of HIV test results from
Timberlake said that HIV infection remains a significant public health
problem in Wisconsin and the United States. In 2009, new cases of HIV
infection in Wisconsin increased by 11% compared to 2008 and have
increased by 32% since 2001. Nationally, approximately 56,000 individuals
in the U.S. are newly infected each year, and of this estimate, 21% are
infected and do not know it. Transmission from persons who are not aware
of their infection accounts for 54-70% of the new infections.
"The number of people living with HIV continues to grow as new
infections occur and HIV treatments successfully extend life. Early
detection is an invaluable resource in stopping the spread of this
disease. With an improved consent law, testing and detection in Wisconsin
will be significantly improved," said Secretary Timberlake.
National health care reform also provides an opportunity to fight the
spread of HIV by promoting responsible behavior. The new law includes $75
million per year through 2014 for education grants to states. Funding is
also available for innovative teen pregnancy prevention strategies and
services to high-risk, vulnerable, and culturally under-represented
populations including racial and ethnic minorities and Indian tribes.
The Wisconsin Office of Health Care Reform will be pursuing several
opportunities for increased public health funding made available through
national health care reform.
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Last Revised: June 01, 2011