What health officials are calling, "the first significant piece of AIDS legislation in Utah" has been passed - for a second time - by the Legislature.
HB9 - "AIDS Testing, Reporting and Compensation for Emergency Medical Services Providers" - passed both the House and Senate during the special session Tuesday night.The new bill is a revised version of the original bill, which was passed by the 1988 Legislature but vetoed by the governor.
The new bill has two primary components. One is the voluntary testing of patients who have been transported by emergency teams where there's been a significant exposure. Upon admittance to a hospital, the patient will be asked if his/her blood can be tested for hepatitis or AIDS.
The second part of the bill provides a mechanism for workman's compensation should a medical technician become HIV positive as a result of a work-related exposure.
The bill, modified only slightly, now requires some rule making on how the actual testing and record keeping will be handled.
A second bill, "Confidentiality of Communicable Disease Information," didn't fare as well in the special session, even though it was considered the cornerstone of all AIDS legislation.
The bill basically sets up a series of protections to ensure that patient information is guarded by all holders of that information - whether the holder is a public health agency, hospital, physician or other provider.
After passing the Senate, it was referred to the House where it was amended -and then defeated.
It too was passed by the 1988 Legislature, only to be vetoed by the governor.
Since February, extensive revisions have been made to the bills by medical specialists, law enforcement officers, emergency technicians, attorneys, insurance agents and citizens.
And the debate will go on.
State epidemiologist Craig R. Nichols said the Utah Department of Health will be reviewing the present status of AIDS legislation and determining what changes or additional legislation is necessary.
A package of AIDS bills will be presented to the 1989 Legislature, Nichols said.