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CDC HIV/AIDS/Viral Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update
CANADA: Law Protects Emergency Workers
Duncan Thorne
September 14, 2007
Edmonton Journal (09.13.07) - Friday, September 14, 2007

The provincial government of Alberta has passed the Mandatory Testing and Disclosure Act, which requires compulsory testing of people who expose police, firefighters, paramedics, and other emergency workers to bodily fluids. The law takes effect Oct. 1, and mandates testing for HIV and other communicable diseases.

The legislation means that anyone, an emergency worker or simply a Good Samaritan, can go to a judge or justice of the peace and apply for an order compelling someone who has contaminated them with bodily fluids to provide a medical sample. It is expected that those exposed will get the mandatory test results within days.

Emergency workers have been spat upon, bitten, and stabbed with needles. Edmonton Police Chief Mike Boyd said his officers experienced 40 bodily-fluid exposures in 2006 and 12 exposures so far this year. Of those 12, two people refused to provide blood samples, Boyd said. He added that the new law brings peace of mind to emergency workers across the province.

Emergency Medical Services Chief Steve Rapanos said paramedics were jabbed with needles or otherwise exposed to bodily fluids 18 times last year. There have been 14 incidents in 2007 so far. Fire Chief Randy Wolsey said his workers were exposed to bodily fluids five times so far this year.