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Another State Adopts Opt-Out Testing

Another State Adopts Opt-Out Testing

Wisconsin has become the 43rd state to pass an opt-out consent law for HIV testing. The measure will take effect in November. Since 2006, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended that states adopt an opt-out approach to HIV testing.

The current policy requiring health care providers to secure a patient's informed written consent before conducting an HIV test presents a significant barrier, said Rep. Mike Huebsch, who introduced the new legislation with Rep. Jennifer Shilling. "With this law, we'll now treat HIV like other diseases when it comes to testing," Huebsch said.

"We hope to find more HIV early because we can test more easily," said William Agger, an infectious-disease specialist. He noted that HIV screening rates are consistently higher in jurisdictions with opt-out consent laws.

Huebsch said the law maintains strict protections of patient rights and confidentiality. Among its provisions:

>The patient must be given the opportunity to ask questions about the test and to decline testing.

>Health care providers must document that they have explained to patients that while testing is voluntary, it will occur unless the patient declines it.

>A person cannot be denied health care based on his or her refusal to be tested.

>The law doubles existing penalties for illegal disclosure of HIV testing results and HIV-related discrimination.

>Disclosure of a patient's HIV test results can only occur if the patient provides his or her informed written consent.

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