NEW YORK, Sept. 1 (UPI) -- New York residents should expect to be routinely offered a voluntary HIV test when receiving healthcare, health officials say.
An amendment of the New York state Public Health Law requires healthcare providers, beginning Sept. 1, to offer all patients ages 13-64 a voluntary test for human immunodeficiency virus while receiving treatment for a non-life-threatening condition in a hospital, a hospital emergency room, a doctor's office or outpatient clinic.
"This state law will have its greatest impact here in New York City, where more than 107,000 residents are living with HIV/AIDS and thousands more do not know they are infected," Dr. Thomas Farley, New York City health commissioner, says in a statement. "These people may not be receiving the care they need and may be unknowingly infecting their partners. If you are not offered an HIV test the next time you visit a healthcare provider and you want to know your status, ask for it."
Under the state's old law, patients had to provide written consent before receiving an HIV test. The new law allows oral consent if the test will produce results within an hour, although a patient can choose to opt out of HIV testing.
Healthcare providers must provide seven specified points of information about HIV to the patient, health officials say. HIV tests results -- positive or negative -- are kept strictly confidential in accordance with the law, Farley says.