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CDC HIV/AIDS/Viral Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update
CALIFORNIA: Legislative Update
Jordan Rau
September 11, 2007
Los Angeles Times (09.11.07) - Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The state Assembly has given unanimous approval to a bill designed to raise the number of Californians being tested for HIV. AB 682, sponsored by Assembly member Patty Berg (D- Eureka), would remove the requirement that written consent be obtained from the patient before an HIV test is administered; instead, the test could be performed routinely unless the patient declines.

"Many doctors now don't test because they need informed consent," Berg said. "But this makes it part of your normal exam." Assembly member Bonnie Garcia (R-Cathedral City), who co-wrote the bill, believes it will encourage testing among Latina and African-American women, who account for many new HIV cases. She pointed out that women already undergo breast exams and Pap tests without granting special consent.

The measure is backed by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, which operates the state's largest nongovernmental HIV testing program. Michael Weinstein, president of AHF, called the bill "the most important change in public HIV/AIDS policy in years." The legislation, which received only one "no" vote in the Senate, now goes to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who has not declared a position on it.