California Democratic assemblyman Paul Koretz introduced a bill last week that would require the state Department of Health Services to form a task force to create treatment guidelines for cases of inadvertent exposure to HIV, including exposure through sexual contact. The state currently has postexposure treatment guidelines for health care workers and sexual assault survivors who are exposed to the virus, but Koretz's bill would lead to the creation of guidelines for the general public. Current HIV postexposure prophylaxis guidelines for health care workers possibly exposed to the virus through needle sticks and other on-the-job injuries call for one month of treatment with three or four anti-HIV medications to help prevent infection. Studies have shown that a one-month treatment regimen also can prevent infections in people exposed to the virus through sexual exposure to HIV.
Koretz's proposed legislation calls for the formation of a 10-member task force that includes people with HIV/AIDS, HIV service providers, representatives from drug companies, and officials from the state Office of AIDS. "It seems prudent, particularly with Governor Davis's proposed cut to HIV prevention funds, to look at all strategies to slow the spread of this pandemic," Koretz said. The bill will be discussed and voted on at the assembly health committee meeting scheduled for March 23. If it passes, the bill will move to the full assembly for consideration.