A bill that HIV/AIDS advocates and service providers say would significantly reduce the barriers to testing passed the Illinois House April 23 and has been referred to the State Senate's Committee on Public Health.
HB 1004 makes changes in the AIDS Confidentiality Act to better address a patient's consent process, allowing providers to shift from an "opt-in" process, wherein patients must discuss the their consent with a nurse, physician or some other high-level practitioner, to one that's "opt-out," wherein most patients would have an HIV test as a routine part of their blood work, and be able to address consent issues with whomever is checking them in for their medical visit.
Such a change is "really [addressing] two issues, one on the patient side and the other on the provider side," said Nancy Glick, an infectious diseases physician at Mt. Sinai Hospital and HIV medical director at Access Community Health Network. "When you do the 'opt-out'when you're doing HIV testing for everyoneit normalizes it and makes it much more of an accepted process. Studies have shown that people are much more accepting of testing with that.
"The flip side of that is, for the provider, it becomes a routine thing that we do. We can integrate it into our system more easily. People don't think about it much more than, 'This is just a part of what we do here," she added.
HB 1004 was sponsored by state Rep. La Shawn K. Ford ( D-Chicago ) and passed the House unanimously. The bill also extends the life of the African American HIV/AIDS Response Act, which was set to expire in 2016, to 2026.
"Our government was founded on community initiatives," said Ford in a statement. "This bill is the work of what our government has been founded on. The passage of this bill brings me great pride to have the trust and the responsibility from so many community organizations to carry such an important measure to help with a problem that continues to be a challenge throughout the state."