More than half of Georgians with HIV are not currently in treatment, health officials say.
A Senate bill aims to bring thousands more of these patients into care.
If enacted, SB 342 would allow the state’s Department of Public Health to alert a physician of a patient’s HIV or AIDS status.
HIV is the virus that causes AIDS. Treatments now available can help keep an infection from developing into AIDS, or can help prolong the lives of people who have already developed AIDS.
Under the bill, when someone with HIV arrives for care at a facility, and their medical data show that the individual has not had a regular blood test, Public Health would send a message to the patient’s health care provider about that out-of-care status.
The doctor would then encourage the patient to return to treatment, which includes taking a combination of prescription drugs to suppress their viral load. Antiretroviral therapy doesn’t cure HIV, but stops it from reproducing itself and spreading. full story
Some Georgia applicants for food stamps and welfare benefits would have to pass a drug test under a House bill that cleared a committee Monday on a 7-6 vote.
People applying for this government assistance would require testing if they raised “reasonable suspicion” of illegal drug use, under House Bill 772.
The House Judiciary Committee also passed two highly visible bills related to the Affordable Care Act. One would require legislative approval of any expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.
The second would prohibit employees of any state unit from spending state funds to advocate for Medicaid expansion. It would also bar the University of Georgia from operating its current navigator program that assists people trying to get coverage under the ACA. full story
A Georgia House panel Monday approved a bill that would toughen penalties for operating an unlicensed personal care home, raising a first offense to a felony from a
Rep. Sharon Cooper
The vote came after compelling testimony from Marietta Police Chief Dan Flynn, who described to the House Health and Human Services Committee two cases of abuse in unlicensed Cobb County homes.
In one case, Flynn said, a woman in her 50s with dementia was kept in a garage in a “sweltering hot’’ home and was deprived of food and medicine.
The owner in that case, after a plea bargain, was given just a one-day sentence, with credit for time served, Flynn said. “That really got our attention.’’ full story
Georgia has one of the nation’s highest rates of HIV, the virus that can develop into AIDS, and many of those infected are African-American women.
In fact, the rate of black women with an HIV diagnosis in the state is 12 times that of white women, according to the CDC.
An Augusta program, though, is helping African-American women get treatment for substance abuse and mental health problems, two factors that increase the risk of getting an HIV infection or spreading it.
The program, SHE PREVAILS, is funded by a three-year, $1.6 million federal grant.
“We want to help women become empowered to take care of their sexual health, to protect themselves, to negotiate complex relationships,” says the program’s director, Lara Stepleman, a psychologist at the Medical College of Georgia at Georgia Regents University. “The idea behind all of this it to help reduce HIV spread.”
Stepleman talks about how the program works, its challenges and successes, in the above video interview, courtesy of Georgia Regents University.
The sponsor of a medical marijuana bill said Monday after a three-hour legislative hearing that the proposal must get significant revisions before it can move forward in the Georgia General Assembly.
State Rep. Allen Peake (R-Macon) said he was unsure of the specific changes needed to House Bill 885 that would give Georgia children, who have no other treatment options, the opportunity to receive therapeutic cannabidiol to treat their seizures.
Peake’s efforts, though, drew support from the vast majority of people who packed the hearing room, including parents who tearfully testified their children suffer multiple seizures a day.
Physicians who testified at the House Health and Human Services Committee hearing agreed that the therapeutic oil, which does not have the psychoactive qualities of typical marijuana, has proved effective in providing relief from seizures, but needs more thorough study.
The legislation is scheduled for another hearing Thursday.
The medical marijuana testimony was part of a busy health care day at the Capitol, as lawmakers continued to work hard to move key legislation in a compressed time period. This year’s legislative session is a short one because party primaries will be held unusually early.
The Senate Health and Human Services Committee on Monday approved a revamp of the state’s child welfare services; a bill to increase monitoring of the state’s community service boards; and a proposal that would allow public health officials to inform medical providers of a patient’s HIV status if the patient is not in treatment. full story