HIV LEGISLATION: Wilson Vetoes Coded HIV Reporting, OKs Exposure Bill
Gov. Pete Wilson yesterday vetoed a bill that would have set up a "unique identifier" system for tracking HIV infections in the state. Authored by state Assemblywoman Carole Migden (D-San Francisco), AB 1663 would have created a reporting system based on alphanumeric code, rather than names. In his veto message, Wilson "conceded" that the state is "one of only nine states that do not track HIV." However, he said names-based reporting is needed for effective partner notification services, adding, "irrational concerns over privacy should not interfere with what must be our highest priority, interrupting the chain of HIV transmission" (Lucas, San Francisco Chronicle, 10/1). Pat Christen, executive director of the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, called the veto "harmful and short-sighted." She said, "It leaves our state without a comprehensive HIV reporting system, and squanders a unique opportunity to implement [a] system that has the strong support of both mainstream medical groups, such as the California Medical Association, as well as other HIV advocates" (SFAF release, 9/30). Eileen Hansen, public policy director of the AIDS Legal Referral Panel, said, "It is appalling that the governor would ignore the sound public health advice provided to him and would, instead, listen to the political agenda of a few extremists who can't understand the damage collecting names would cause."
Wilson signed one HIV-related bill yesterday, SB 705, that makes it a felony -- punishable by up to eight years in prison -- "to knowingly expose an unaware person to the virus which causes AIDS," Reuters/Nando Times reports. "This is a deadly act that the state has the right and responsibility to deter," he said. The new law also "allows a person's HIV status to be disclosed if the person is the subject of a criminal investigation for committing this crime" (Reuters/Nando Times, 9/30).