Chicago Sun Times Editorial - Good intentions gone too far
Copyright by The Chicago Sun Times
December 22, 2006
As is usually the case, the Rev. Michael Pfleger's heart is in the right place. But his proposal to have the state require every high school student in Illinois to undergo mandatory HIV testing violates individual rights.
The proposal faces several roadblocks. For one, medical records are protected under federal HIPAA laws, and the state's AIDS Confidentiality Act would have to be amended to allow mandatory testing.
Unlike immunizations that are mandated to protect students from contagious diseases spread by casual contact, HIV/AIDS is a disease that is spread through sexual intercourse, blood transfusions and contaminated hypodermic needles.
Because there is still a huge stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS, advocates have also opposed mandatory testing.
Unfortunately, the National Institutes of Health estimate that a quarter of all new AIDS cases occur in teens ages 13 to 19.
But after mandatory testing, what then? Will these teens be barred from school until they seek treatment? Will they be forced to reveal their status?
Rather than mandatory testing, we need a consistent public awareness campaign about teens and HIV/AIDS.
Allowing teens to make the right choices rather than making those choices for them is the real path to teen empowerment.