- AFC Applauds Senate, Encourages Governor to Sign HB 61
SPRINGFIELD - The Illinois Senate passed HB 61 today, amending the Illinois Communicable Disease Prevention Act by a vote of 38-13. The House previously passed this measure on March 7 with a vote of 61-55-1.
“We’re grateful that Sen. Iris Martinez (D-Chicago) served as the chief sponsor for this bill in the Senate, and we thank House sponsor Rep. La Shawn Ford (D-Chicago) for his unrelenting work on HB 61.” said Ramon Gardenhire, Director of Government Relations for the AIDS Foundation of Chicago (AFC). “We know that HIV infections are on the rise among adolescents, and this measure will work to reverse this trend by removing a barrier to testing.”
HB 61 repeals an outdated law from the 1980s that requires local health departments to report a child’s HIV status to the school principal, whenever a young person tests positive for the disease. Under this antiquated legislation, principals then have the authority to share a child’s HIV status with other school personnel.
“AIDS and HIV research and treatment has grown considerably over the past 25 years since the original bill was passed,” Sen. Martinez said. “Unfortunately, the stigma and fear that has always been associated with AIDS and HIV still exists and there is a lot of misunderstanding of the disease.”
“We have been lobbying since 2008 to have this law eradicated from the books,” said David Ernesto Munar, President/CEO of AFC. “Illinois is the only state that has a law like this, and having HB 61 pass both chambers of the General Assembly brings us one step closer to bringing us up to speed with the rest of the country.”
“This has been a difficult measure to pass through both chambers,” Gardenhire said, “because there’s still a lot of misinformation about how HIV is transmitted. The fact is, however, that schools take universal precautions to ensure student safety, regardless of HIV status.”
“This outdated law does nothing to deter the spread of HIV,” continued Gardenhire. “It only encourages stigma and discourages youth from being tested because they fear their status will be disclosed at school, if they test positive. The current law puts a barrier between young people and potentially life-saving treatment.”
AFC strongly urges Governor Quinn to sign HB 61 into law.
Founded in 1985 by community activists and physicians, the AIDS Foundation of Chicago is a catalyst for local, national, and international action against HIV/AIDS.