Democrat And Republican Women Legislators Join Forces To Tackle HIV/AIDS Epidemic

Legislative hearing scheduled in Desert to discuss increased risks for women

SACRAMENTO—Assemblywoman Bonnie Garcia (R–Cathedral City) will be hosting a legislative hearing to announce new legislation and take testimony on the growing health threat of HIV/AIDS, especially among Hispanic and African-American women. Garcia will be joined by Assemblymember Cindy Montañez (D–Mission Hills) and Assemblywoman Nicole Parra (D–Bakersfield). The trio partnered to introduce AB 568—legislation that encourages increased testing of women.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that in 2003 heterosexual women accounted for a staggering 26% of all new cases, with African-American and Hispanic women accounting for 83% of these diagnoses. Many of these women don’t participate in risky behavior but are becoming infected from partners that are intravenous drug users, share needles or are having sex with other men.

AB 568 will require medical providers to give women patients seeking an annual gynecological exam, family planning counseling or pre-natal care the following:

•An informational sheet on HIV/AIDS which outlines the potential risk factors and methods of infection;

•A description of the tests available to detect HIV/AIDS and how long it takes to learn the results —(currently oral and blood test are available)

•Information on the costs of the tests and if these costs are covered by Medi-Care, Medi-Cal or other insurance;

•An authorization section seeking the patients’ consent to perform testing during the office visit. If testing is not available on-site, a referral form to local laboratories or testing sites will be provided.

The legislative hearing will feature testimony from numerous local and statewide organizations that work with women and children living with HIV/AIDS. Several women infected with the disease have also been invited to share their experiences. A broad coalition of faith based organizations, counseling groups, business leaders and elected officials have been invited and will be encouraged to share the information with their community.

Pie de foto

Photo taken at the legislative hearing in Cathedral City on Thursday March 3rd is of (L-R) Araceli Ayala, Executive Director, Esperanza Youth and Family Center in Coachella, Assemblywoman Bonnie Garcia, Evelyn Hernandez Valentino, Executive Director, Working Wonders and Assemblywoman Nicole Parra. Assemblywoman Cindy Montanez and Assemblyman John Benoit also participated in the event along with 14 other panelists.