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No Signature Required

Sept 6, 2011

There have been many waiting for this day a long time; an end to the requirement of written informed consent for HIV testing in Pennyslvania. As the day finally arrives (kinda/sorta) I was expecting to feel different. I say kinda/sorta because although the PA law has stated an end to these requirements I suspect there are many organizations that have contractual requirements with entities that may still require written informed consent.

The goal of lifting the written informed consent is to foster increased HIV testing without stigma. To essentially make it opt out and normalize the experience. The funny thing is I know so many people who already thought it was some version of opt-out testing or rather that anytime they went to a doctor they were automatically tested; which wasn’t accurate but nonetheless for many that was the general prevailing belief. I guess I am wondering for those people who thought they were being tested all this time what will their reality be upon hearing a positive test result. Will it differ from those who “chose” to be tested? Especially since along with no longer requiring a signature how people are “counseled/ assessed” is also now non-descript in its requirements.

I am on the fence about the written informed consent and pre-test counseling changes in Pennsylvania. I am all for increased HIV testing, more people knowing their status and having greater, possibly earlier opportunities for treatment options. I am all for doing away with the categorizing of high-risk that inevitably leaves out someone. With the advent of rapid testing no more sleepless nights worrying about what the outcome of the results will be is great. But what safety measures are in place to really document consent? What tools are there to really help an individual ideintify what they are doing to put themselves or others at risk for HIV?

No signature required but maybe a watchful eye is still needed as we in Pennsylvania join other states in a new era of HIV testing.


(see all of Tiffany’s posts on Voices from our Allies)

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Amy nunn permalink
    September 7, 2011 6:35 pm

    I think it’s a great and overdue policy change! Let’s see if testing rates actually increase.

    • Tiffany permalink
      September 8, 2011 10:01 am

      Amy, thanks for the comment! I know something definitely needed to be done to increase testing and therefore people’s knowledge regarding their status. But, I am just concerned about the protections in place and the lack of guidance in the implementation of the changes. I’m also not totally confident testing numbers will increase in ways in which I would like from this measure but I pray I am wrong.

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