California governor Gray Davis on Tuesday signed into law a bill that enables community-based organizations with expertise in HIV testing services to train new HIV testing counselors in the state. Currently there is a shortage of certified HIV testing counselors in California, particularly in minority communities. Training and certification had been available only under state supervision through county health departments and included a 32-hour, four-day course traditionally offered only during business hours on weekdays. Supporters of the new law say it will allow HIV service groups to conduct training at more convenient times, such as evenings and weekends, helping to create a much bigger pool of testing counselors.
"This bill paves the way for a whole new approach to HIV testing," said state assemblyman Gil Cedillo, who authored the bill. "By empowering community-based nonprofit organizations with expertise in HIV testing to recruit and train testing counselors, [the new law] enhances and supplements our counter-based training programs in an effort to reach more Californians with vital HIV testing, prevention, and outreach."
The bill was sponsored by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation and supported by numerous HIV/AIDS service organizations throughout the state.