San Francisco Supervisors pass HIV testing legislation
By Angela Hokanson, Bay City News Service
June 21, 2006
SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) - The San Francisco Board of Supervisors
voted 10-0 today to pass legislation that requests that the city's
health department require patients' written informed consent before
they receive HIV antibody tests at San Francisco General Hospital.
The legislation modifies a section of the city's health code
to encourage the San Francisco Department of Public Health to
require that patients give written informed consent, and undergo
pre-test counseling, before receiving an HIV test at the county
These proposed changes would bring HIV testing at the hospital
in line with state and federal law, according to the legislation.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Northern California
and the ACLU AIDS Project support the ordinance.
"The principle underlying requiring informed consent to
medical treatment is -- at its core -- respect for individual
privacy and decision-making. Informed consent requires that people
have all the information they need to make an intelligent decision
about their medical care," ACLU Senior Staff Attorney Tamara
Lange said in testimony to San Francisco's City Operations and
Neighborhood Services Committee as the legislation was being reviewed.
"In the context of HIV testing, informed consent means that
people must be fully counseled about the consequences of an HIV-positive
result, including the fact that their name will be reported to
the government if they test positive, and must be informed about
the availability of anonymous testing," Lange said.
The legislation, which was sponsored by Supervisor Fiona Ma,
passed today on its second reading. It will now be forwarded to
the mayor's office for his review.
Supervisor Michela Alioto-Pier was absent from the meeting and
did not vote.
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