Maine CDC Press Release

September 19, 2007

Changes to Maine State Law Allow for Improved Access to HIV Testing

FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT:
Dora Anne Mills, MD, MPH (207)-287-3270
Or John Martins, Director
Employee and Public Communications (207) 287-5012

AUGUSTA – On September 19, 2007, changes in Maine HIV testing law go into effect. An Act to Improve Access to HIV Testing in Health Care Settings was passed by the Maine State Legislature in an effort to make HIV testing a routine part of health care as recommended by the U. S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in 2006.

“The changes in the law streamline the testing process and allow health care providers to more easily comply with the U. S. CDC recommendations,” explained Maine CDC Director Dr. Dora Mills. “Our goal is to increase the number of patients being tested, promote earlier detection of HIV infection, and to further decrease mother-to-child transmission of HIV.”

Maine’s law removes the need to have separate written consents for an HIV test and eliminates the requirement of pretest prevention counseling. Removing these barriers is recommended by the U.S. CDC in order to make HIV testing more routine.

“Routine HIV testing is a critical gateway to both treatment and prevention,” added Dr. Mills. “For instance, routine HIV testing can help to identify the estimated 300-500 Mainers who are infected with HIV but don’t know it because they haven’t been tested. It can also help to lower the proportion, currently 40-45 percent, of people who are diagnosed with HIV very late in the course of their disease, often 8 to 10 years after they’ve been infected. There is good HIV treatment available and it is important to begin treatment in the early stages of the infection to have the greatest benefit. And, once people know they are infected, they can prevent spreading HIV to others.”

The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Maine CDC) strongly encourages health care providers to explore incorporating HIV testing as a routine practice in their setting. Information about the HIV testing recommendations, the changes in Maine HIV testing law, and useful informational resources were developed jointly by the Maine CDC, the Maine Medical Association and other health care groups.

More information can also be found at: www.mainepublichealth.gov or call the HIV, STD and Viral Hepatitis Program at 287-3747.