New York – This past Friday, in hopes to reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS, Governor David Paterson (D-NY) signed two pieces of legislation. The first bill, gives patients, between the ages of 13 and 64, the option to get tested for HIV by signing a general consent form. The form will stay into effect until its expiration date or until a patient chooses to withdraw their consent. Patterson advocates that “By making HIV testing a routine part of health care, this legislation will increase HIV testing rates, letting people learn their status and begin treatment at an earlier stage, which can significantly improve the length and quality of life and help reduce transmission of the disease.”
The second bill, seeks to ensure that intravenous drug users who participate in needle-exchange programs are not prosecuted if trace amounts of drugs are in their old syringes. Needle exchange programs are credited with reducing the spread of diseases like HIV and hepatitis C, but arrests of participants serve as a deterrent. The law requires law-enforcement agencies and prosecutors be notified about the rights of participants in needle-exchange programs by the Department of Criminal Justice Services.
“New York has taken a tremendous step towards ensuring that all its residents have knowledge of their HIV status, know how to prevent new infections, and have access to necessary treatment and care so that we can finally stem the spread of this deadly disease,” Senate Health Committee Chairman Thomas Duane, D-Manhattan, said Friday regarding the signing of the bills.