Bill calling for inmate HIV testing passes House committee

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - One lawmaker wants prisoners to be tested before being released in hopes of protecting the community from what he calls an epidemic.

Representative Kenny Cox's bill specifically calls for inmates to be tested for HIV before going on parole. It passed a House committee room Wednesday.

Cox says Louisiana has the fourth highest number of men and women living with AIDS in the nation. He is proposing free testing for anyone before parole.

The kits for those tests would by paid for by the Office of Public Health.

Cox says this is an effort to stop the disease from spreading unknowingly to the inmates and people they come in contact with.

"Disease Education is what we need to be doing," said Cox, D-Natchitoches. "How this person slowly passes away and also how the treatments have improved so that that person can live some kind of quality life, but not transmit this disease to others."

The testing would not be mandatory for parolees. An inmate can say no if they want, but a doctor joining Cox says that's unlikely.

That doctor also says that in nine state prisons about 3 percent of inmates are HIV positive.

Cox says those who test positive will be monitored by public health officials and then subject to mandatory care from doctors.

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