[T]he Philadelphia Health Department confirms that they were working with a group called SPEAK OUT, and that this was organized though Councilman Bobby Henon’s office to offer free HIV testing for Lincoln High School students.
They set up the van at a nearby pizza place and apparently did not realize it was also near the middle school.
As for the age requirement, the Health Department says in the state of Pennsylvania, anyone who legally consents to HIV testing – no matter their age – can be tested.
By Alicia Vitarelli
Any person in the state of Pennsylvania can get tested for HIV as long as they provide consent, Garrow said.
“We, like all public health agencies, believe that everyone should know their HIV status, and will continue to make it easy for people to access these types of tests,” Garrow said. “It is regrettable that these students wandered into an HIV testing event targeted at high schoolers. This is absolutely not a case of bribing or enticing young children to submit to HIV testing in any type of coordinated fashion.”
By Neetu Chandak
A health department spokesperson told Fox News in a statement that “there is no minimum age to provide consent for HIV testing.”
“Parental consent is also not required, as in 30 other states. Additionally, all of our HIV testing is anonymous. For these reasons, there was no way the testing provider could have known the age of the people presenting for testing,” the spokesperson said, adding only “a small number” of the middle school students were tested.
“It is regrettable that these students wandered into an HIV testing event targeted at high schoolers,” the statement continued. “This is absolutely not a case of bribing or enticing young children to submit to HIV testing in any type of coordinated fashion.”
By Madeline Farber
Health department spokesperson James Garrow says these kind of outreaches are common and no reason for alarm. HIV is still a health menace, and screenings help keep those infected from unknowingly spreading the virus. I understand that.
“These events are a normal part of our work to fight the HIV epidemic,” Garrow told me in an email. “One of our providers, sponsored by us, set up this event with the intention of encouraging students from the nearby Lincoln High School to get tested for HIV. Given that one-quarter of all new infections in Philadelphia are among youth between the ages of 13 and 24, this isn’t an abnormal event.
“A number of students at Austin Meehan Middle School came to the testing event and were tested for their HIV status. Under Pennsylvania’s HIV testing law, commonly known as Act 148, there is no age limit for consenting to an HIV test, or duty to inform parents. Because our testing is anonymous, there is no way for us to have known that these students were from the middle school.”
By Jenice Armstong