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AIDS organization
denounces New York State bill for forced HIV

AIDS organization
denounces New York State bill for forced HIV

The Gay Men's Health Crisis has released a statement criticizing the New York State legislature for passing a bill mandating HIV testing for indicted rapists.

The organization believes that the tests may provide misleading information that could encourage survivors of sexual assault to delay,discontinue, or not start HIV post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) treatment. Several respected medical bodies, including the Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization, recommend that PEP treatment be given immediately unless it is known that the assailant is HIV-negative.

Treatment must begin within 72 hours of contact to be effective.

"This bill, while emotionally appealing, disregards well-established medical information and has the potential to harm--not help--the very people it is intended to help," said Marjorie J. Hill, Ph.D., chief executive officer of GMHC, in the press release. "This legislation is neither grounded in science nor an appropriate means of protecting survivors of sexual assault. It provides a false sense of security at a time when security is most needed."

The organization outlines several instances where the mandated testing may mislead the survivor, including tests of the wrong suspect and tests of suspects who may be infected but won't test positive due to the "window period" of HIV infection.

The GMHC did offer some praise for the bill, citing moves by the legislature to make PEP treatment more readily available for those who want it.

The Gay Men's Health Crisis is a nonprofit, volunteer-based organization dedicated to the fight against AIDS. It provides a variety of services for HIV-positive and uninfected members of the LGBT community, including outreach and education programs. (The Advocate)

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