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Residents of Pennsylvania may soon find it easier to access HIV testing, as state lawmakers recently voted to eliminate many of the hurdles that patients formerly had to cross in order get themselves screened.
The new law eliminates requirements on physicians to obtain separate written consent from patients for testing and to provide pre-testing counseling. Experts say that these measures made HIV testing too burdensome for patients and discouraged many from seeking testing.
"The passage of this bill in the state senate is a real victory for prevention," said Dr. Mary van den Berg-Wolf, chair of the American Academy of HIV Medicine Pennsylvania steering committee. "By making testing for HIV less cumbersome, we will be able to identify more patients earlier, which leads to better health outcomes for the patient and reduces transmission."
The new laws bring Pennsylvania's testing requirements more in line from recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The agency estimates that more than 25 percent of those with the STD are unaware of their infection, making HIV testing an important tool in combating the spread of the disease.
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