West Virginia County Passes Resolution to Drop Written Consent Requirements for HIV Tests

The Wheeling-Ohio County Board of Health in West Virginia on Tuesday approved a resolution requesting that state legislators repeal a law requiring written consent prior to HIV tests, the Intelligencer Wheeling News-Register reports. The resolution states that the written consent "requirement for HIV testing has been found to be a barrier to HIV diagnosis interfering with the prevention of the spread of HIV." The board's appeal to the state legislature is in response to recommendations released by CDC in 2006 that HIV testing become a routine part of medical care for people ages 13 to 64 and that requirements for written consent be dropped.

Board member John Holloway said that patient consent for HIV screening would still be required but that written consent and pre-test counseling would no longer be mandatory under the new policy. He added that consent for HIV testing would be treated like consent for other tests. Becky Beckett, a nursing supervisor, said that she often sees patients who do not cope well with the pre-test counseling process. "I've had people get up and walk out, and I don't blame them," she said. According to Holloway, HIV screening currently is the "only blood test that is separated. ... It interferes with controlling the disease, and that's the bottom line." He added that the written consent and counseling process can be time consuming. The board is hoping to gain support for the resolution from other county health departments and the state Bureau for Public Health and plans to send letters to the agencies (Hanson, Intelligencer Wheeling News-Register, 1/28).

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