AHF Lauds CA Legislature for Passing HIV Testing Bill & STD Outreach Bill; Urges Governor Brown to Sign Both

In News by AHF

STD Outreach Bill (SB 1090) and Hospital HIV Testing Bill (AB 2439) will improve lives of Californians

LOS ANGELES (August 30, 2016) AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) today lauded the California Legislature for approving two important public health bills intended to improve the lives and health of Californians. The bills now moves on to Governor Edmund G. Brown’s desk for his consideration and signature. AHF is strongly urging the Governor to sign both bills, which include:

  • AB 2439 (Adrin Nazarian, D, 46th District, Van Nuys), which passed Assembly Concurrence with a strong bipartisan vote last night (59 to 21), creates a pilot program for routine HIV testing in the emergency departments of as many as four hospitals throughout California (a policy which the CDC first recommended as far back as 2006), and
  • SB 1090 (Senator Holly Mitchell, D, 30th District, Los Angeles), which passed—unanimously—out of the legislature Friday, requires the state’s Department of Health STD Control branch to direct funds for STD outreach and screening throughout the state based on population and incidence of STDs while also balancing the need to spread funding to as many counties as possible in order to provide meaningful services to each funded county. While this bill does NOT appropriate any money per se; it will inform how the state directs existing public health funding. Earlier this year, California approved increased budget funding for STD prevention, outreach and treatment to over $5 million—a budget augmentation request made by AHF.

“We applaud the California Legislature for approving these two pieces of pragmatic public health legislation and thank Senator Holly Mitchell and Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian for authoring and carrying these bills. We also urge Governor Brown to quickly sign these two bills into law,” said Whitney Engeran-Cordova, Senior Director for AIDS Healthcare Foundation’s (AHF) Public Health Division. “As for the STD outreach bill, the state wisely increased STD funding to five million dollars earlier this year. SB 1090 will help direct resources and services to so-called ‘hotspots’ of STD incidence to better manage and control these potentially debilitating and costly infections. Regarding AB 2439, back in 2006, the CDC first issued a recommendation that everyone between the ages of 13 and 65 be offered routine HIV testing at least once in medical settings like clinics, hospitals and doctors’ offices. Unfortunately, there are still approximately 5,000 new HIV infections occurring each year in California, and outreach and education hasn’t worked to find those new infections. This pilot program for offering routine HIV testing to all those visiting an emergency department at a hospital may go a long way in helping address this issue.”

Background on Need for HIV Testing Bill (AB 2439)

Currently 70% of the 1.2 million people living with HIV in the United States do not have their virus suppressed, meaning, for some, they have never been tested for HIV; while for others, they may know their HIV status but for whatever reason, are not in care and on lifesaving HIV antiretroviral treatment. There are approximately 5,000 new HIV infections each year in California.  Making HIV testing both routine and easily accessible as part of a hospital stay would help identify and link additional HIV-positive individuals into care, thus helping us break the chain of new infections.

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