On February 12, 2020, ESHB 1551 passed the House of Representatives, by a vote of 57-40. The Senate Committee on Health and Long Term Care heard the bill on Friday, February 21st. At the hearing, two panels testified supporting the bill; one of public health officials and another of community members. One community member testified against the bill. An additional thirteen people signed in on the bill, but did not testify: 12 in support, 1 against. The bill was moved from committee and referred to the Senate Rules Committee on Monday, February 24th. The bill must pass the Senate by 5:00pm on Friday, March 6th, or it will be considered “dead” and no further action will be taken this year.
If you have questions, please contact Tamara Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The End AIDS Washington report (PDF) recommends that we modernize Washington's HIV laws to reflect current science and reduce HIV-related stigma. Washington's laws related to HIV/AIDS primarily sit within Chapter 70.24 RCW, Control and Treatment of Sexually Transmitted Disease.
Many parts of the statute have not been updated, since they were enacted in 1988. The law is outdated and inconsistent with current state and national best practices. The Department of Health has developed proposed agency request legislation to update and modernize Washington's laws, while reducing HIV/AIDS exceptionalism and HIV stigma.
The proposal addresses HIV stigma and modernizes the law by:
- Modernizing the public heath options and expands authority of health officers to effectively work with an individual to understand and manage their HIV by:
- Extending the maximum length of a health order to 12 months;
- Allowing health orders to include HIV treatment to achieve viral suppression; and
- Providing a list of intervention options, including medical examination or testing, receiving counseling or medical treatment, or any combination of options.
- Expanding statutes to also cover BBP, and defines them as hepatitis B and C, HIV, and other pathogens identified by the State Board of Health (SBOH);
- Permitting a minor 14 years or older to consent to medical treatment to avoid HIV infection;
- Creating a misdemeanor when a person has sexual intercourse and fails to notify their partner that they have HIV, does not take practical means to prevent transmission, and transmission occurs; and creates a gross-misdemeanor when, additionally, the person knowingly misrepresents their infection status;
- Removing the statutory classification of intentional HIV exposure or transmission as first degree assault (Class A felony);
- Removing penalties for persons with an STD (other than HIV) whom have sexual intercourse with another person, unless such other persons are informed of the presences of the STD, currently classified as assault in the second degree (Class B felony);
- Aligning various statutes authorizing BBP testing for at-risk employees' who may be exposed to BBP while on the job;
- Allowing public health disease investigators to collect specimens, including through finger stick puncture, to test for STD, BBP, and other infections, as determined by the SBOH, while working under a physician's authorization or by a physician's standing order;
- Eliminating outdated and duplicative statutory requirements for HIV/AIDS occupational exposure education and training for health care professionals and certain categories of employees;
- Expanding public school student education requirements to include all STD, rather than just AIDS, and public school employee education requirements to cover BBP;
- Repealing statutes that are no longer used or are not based on current science, including statutes related to HIV/AIDS testing and counseling for certain categories of people, preparation and dissemination of educational materials including emphasizing abstinence as an approach to prevent STD, the UW Center for AIDS Education, and the AIDS Advisory Committee; and
- Consolidating and clarifies rulemaking authority.
Send emails to: HIVleg@doh.wa.gov
Send letters to:
Office of Infectious Disease
243 Israel Road SE
Tumwater, WA 98501