HIV-testing eyed for all Illinois students

Tuberculosis, hepatitis, measles, mumps and rubella: It’s the law that in order to go to school, Illinois students must receive these immunizations and take these tests.

Should an HIV test be added to the list?

A proposed bill, HB 0193, requiring Illinois students to take HIV tests as part of routine physical examinations has raised eyebrows, as well as debate.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that HIV screening should be a part of physical exams for people between ages 13 and 64.

However, John Knight of the Illinois office of the American Civil Liberties Union said a mandated test may not be effective in stopping the spread of HIV and could violate students’ privacy.

The bill makes HIV tests part of routine pre-enrollment physical examinations. Students would take an HIV test before entering nursery school, kindergarten, fifth and ninth grades, at the same time they are required to be tested for other diseases and receive standard immunizations.

Parents can sign an opt-out form, exempting their child from the test. Declining the test will be recorded on the health forms submitted to schools.

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