Assembly passes legislation improving HIV testing

July 1, 2010
Assemblyman Matthew Titone (D-North Shore) announced the Assembly passed legislation he sponsored to improve HIV testing and counseling. These measures will make it easier for New Yorkers to know their HIV status and get the care they need.

“Knowing your HIV status can save your life,” Titone said. “Better testing will help individuals with HIV/AIDS receive treatment and prevent others from becoming infected.”

This legislation would require physicians and nurses to offer HIV testing to every individual between the ages of 13 and 64, in addition to high risk individuals. This follows the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations of expanding screening to increase the number of people who are tested. The bill would also eliminate a requirement for physicians to obtain a separate written consent for each rapid HIV test, instead allowing patients to verbally consent.

In addition, counseling would be specially tailored to HIV test results under this new legislation. Currently, the law requires post-test counseling be the same regardless of the results. Under this new measure individuals who test negative would be advised about HIV prevention and the risks of specific behaviors.

According to New York City’s most recent HIV/AIDS data, in 2008 there were 42 deaths, 63 new diagnoses and 1,865 people living with the disease on Staten Island. To expand HIV testing on the Island, Assemblyman Titone is pushing for legislation that would require health plans to cover screenings (A.303). He also secured funding for groups, such as Community Health Action of Staten Island, which works to prevent AIDS and advocates for those who have the disease.

“Staten Island has the highest mortality rate from HIV/AIDS in the state and more must be done to fight this disease,” Titone said. “The New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation must increase free HIV testing on Staten Island to help more people learn their status.”

Free AIDS testing is offered by the NYC Health Department at 51 Stuyvesant Place (Wall Street) and by the Staten Island Task Force on AIDS at 25 Hyatt Street. For additional information, call 311.