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W.Va. advances bill to charge for HIV testing

Published on NewsOK Modified: March 7, 2013 at 4:53 pm •  Published: March 7, 2013

Under the proposed bill, local health departments would charge patients for STD testing, but would continue to provide free or reduced testing and treatment for the uninsured.

Sen. Ron Stollings, the bill's sponsor and former president of the West Virginia Medical Association, said that the bill was necessary to try to continue to provide the same services while accounting for reduced federal funding.

"This is a mechanism whereby we can continue to do the sexually transmitted disease testing, the HIV testing," Stollings said. "There would be a charge to the patient."

The vast majority of private insurance plans cover HIV and STD testing.

The automatic federal budget cuts that went into effect March 1 are expected to cut an additional $62,000 from West Virginia's HIV-AIDS program.

West Virginia's HIV rate is the 16th lowest in the country and is well below the national average, according to CDC data. Its rates of chlamydia and gonorrhea are also significantly below the national average.

The bill unanimously passed the Senate Health and Human Resources Committee on Thursday. The committee also advanced a bill that would allow doctors to prescribe medication, without an examination, to the partners of people with an STD.