Lawmakers Look At HIV Disclosure Rules

Apr 22, 2013

Senator Jim Oberweis

HIV-positive students would no longer be outed to their school officials under a measure pending before the state Senate. 

Illinois' Public Health Department tells schools if one of their students has HIV or AIDS.

The agency has to - it's a state law, passed in the 1980s.

Ramon Gardenhire is with the AIDS Foundation of Chicago.

"Those individuals who face having their status disclosed; once that bell was rung, you cannot unring it.  And discrimination that those students face is unparalleled."

He backs a measure that would lift the disclosure requirement.   The House approved the plan, as did a Senate panel.

But critics, like Senator Jim Oberweis, R-Sugar Grove, point out that school officials are required to keep health information private.

"If a principal or a nurse is unlawfully disclosing this information that's where the problem should be, and we should address it there."

They say it's important a teacher know if a student has AIDS, so extra precautions can be taken to keep the virus from spreading.

Supporters counter that teachers ought to already be taking those precautions in every incident involving blood or bodily fluids.

Illinois Public Radio's Amanda Vinicky contributed to this report.