Senator Ellis Announces Routine HIV Testing Bill on World AIDS Day
December 1, 2008 (HOUSTON) - At a press conference at City Hall, State Senator Rodney Ellis announced plans to file a bill in the upcoming session that will implement the Center for Disease Control's 2006 recommendations for HIV testing. He was joined by Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, Councilmembers Wanda Adams and Sue Lovell, former Councilmember Ada Edwards, Stephen L. Williams - Director of the Houston Dept. of Health and Human Services, Pastor Robert Jefferson - Cullen Baptist Church, Dena Gray and Amber David- Bread of Life, Inc., and Jeffrey Campbell - St. Hope Foundation.
The bill will require health care providers to offer HIV tests for a blood samples taken in the course of routine medical screening. The patient will maintain the option to decline. The bill also provides for reimbursement from Medicaid and private insurance plans.
The announcement comes on the 20th anniversary of World AIDS Day. This year's theme is "leadership," and the slogan from 2005-2010 is "Stop AIDS. Keep the Promise."
"Two years ago the CDC gave us their recommendations on how to reduce the rate of infection for a destructive and costly disease. Last year alone there were 1,700 new HIV infections in Houston. How many of those could have been prevented if we had listened to the CDC two years ago? We need to listen now. We have to keep our promise," said Senator Ellis.
It costs approximately $303,000 to treat each new HIV infection. If treated, 1,700 infections will take more than $500 million. An HIV test costs about $35.