SACRAMENTO (October 6, 2013)⎯AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the operator of the largest non-government HIV testing program in California, today praised California Governor Jerry Brown for signing Assembly Bill 446, legislation which will improve HIV testing efforts, particularly those targeting at risk, hard-to-reach populations including people of color and men-who-have-sex-with-men.
AB 446 updates and streamlines California’s Health and Safety Code relating to HIV testing to authorize streamlined consent for HIV testing in non-clinical settings such as on mobile testing vans and allows the disclosure of HIV test results by secure Internet posting or other electronic means for people tested anonymously. The bill also requires every patient who has blood drawn at a primary care clinic and who has consented to the test to be offered an HIV test consistent with the United States Preventive Services Task Force recommendations for screening.
The bill, which the Governor signed Saturday, was authored by Assembly Member Holly Mitchell (D—Los Angeles), who was elected to the California Senate in mid-September in a special election to replace the seat vacated by Sen. Curran Price following his election to the Los Angeles City Council.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), more than 1.1 million people in the United States are living with HIV infection, and almost 1 in 5 (18.1%) are unaware of their infection.
“By signing AB 446, Governor Brown has removed antiquated barriers to widespread screening for HIV, ensuring that California offers a more user friendly environment for people to get tested and learn their HIV status—and get into life-saving treatment, when needed,” said Michael Weinstein, President of AIDS Healthcare Foundation, the sponsor of the bill. “The bill allows us to meet people, including hard-to-reach populations such as people of color and men-who-have-sex-with-men, where they actually are today: getting tested on a mobile van at the local shopping mall or nightclub, and getting their results on the Internet via a secure site. We thank the Governor for his swift signature on this legislation, and also thank Senator Holly Mitchell for her leadership authoring and carrying this important bill while in the Assembly.”
“AB 446 allows for far greater flexibility in how programs like AHF conduct HIV testing and deliver results and should go a long way in helping us close the gap in identifying and linking to care many of those individuals who are infected but who do not yet know their status because they have never been tested,” added Whitney Engeran-Cordova, Senior Director of AHF’s Public Health Division.