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Illinois repeals HIV school notification law
by Kate Sosin, Windy City Times
2013-05-24

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Illinois has approved the repeal of an HIV-notification law after years of pushing by AIDS advocates.

The Senate easily passed HB 61 May 23, a bill that removes a longstanding mandate that health officials notify school principals about HIV-positive students. The repeal was passed by a vote of 38-13.

Current law gives principals the right to share a student's HIV status with teachers and staff. The new law would remove that information from permanent school records.

AIDS advocates have long battled HIV notification laws, arguing that they contribute to stigma and encourage discrimination.

"This outdated law does nothing to deter the spread of HIV," said Ramon Gardenhire, director of government relations for the AIDS Foundation of Chicago, in a statement. "It only encourages stigma and discourages youth from being tested because they fear their status will be disclosed at school, if they test positive. The current law puts a barrier between young people and potentially life-saving treatment."

AIDS advocates have argued that fear of having one's HIV status shared discourages youth from getting tested and that even when the notification law took effect in the 1980s, students were not at risk of contracting HIV in schools.

Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Bechara Choucair applauded the repeal in a statement.

"This bill, which passed both chambers of the General Assembly in a bipartisan fashion, protects children and teenagers living with HIV by repealing an outdated law and allowing them to live more full lives," he said. "We look forward to the Governor signing this bill soon."


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