Legislature Requires Suspects Indicted For Rape To Be Tested For HIV

Armen Hareyan's picture
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The New York Legislature on Thursday approved a measure that would require suspects indicted for rape to be tested for HIV, the Buffalo News reports (Precious, Buffalo News, 6/22). The state's current law requires HIV tests after conviction of rape. New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer (D) and some state lawmakers have been lobbying for the measure, but the measure has been a source of debate in the state Assembly. Supporters of the measure, which was submitted by the state Division of Criminal Justice Services, said that the measure would help rape survivors have access to all information about the virus before they decide whether to take antiretroviral drugs for post-exposure prophylaxis. However, some opponents said the bill might give rape survivors a false sense of security if suspects test negative, adding that survivors might stop taking antiretrovirals prematurely (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 5/25).

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Michael Kink -- legislative counsel for Housing Works, the AIDS service and advocacy group -- said, "It's a misguided measure that actually threatens the health of rape survivors in order to score easy political points." However, Assembly member Nettie Mayersohn (D), who sponsored the bill, said, "What I'm trying to do is make people understand that this is not about civil liberties; it's about public health" (Hakim/Confessore, New York Times, 6/21).

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