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Columbia To Get Anonymous HIV Testing

February 16, 1999
By: David Grebe
State Capital Bureau
Links: HB 607

JEFFERSON CITY - Mid-Missouri would have an anonymous HIV testing site under legislation presented by Rep. Vicky Riback Wilson, D-Columbia, to the House Public Health Committee Tuesday.

Presently, there are 3 sites - one each in St. Louis, Kansas City, and Springfield.

The Boone County Public Health Department currently offers only confidential, not anonymous, HIV tests. In anonymous testing, local counselors do not demand to know the names of people who come to be tested. Confidential test takers are known by local counselors - but their names can't be released to anyone else without permission.

"If you test positive, the counselor encourages people to give names so they can get state services, and for contact notification," said Mary Martin, public health nurse for Boone County Public Health Department.

Martin said that Columbia remains a small town - and that many in the high-risk population are afraid of having their identities known.

Its important for public health that people know their HIV-status, even if they remain unwilling to share their identities, Martin said.

In 1997, the Boone County Health Department began a trial anonymous-testing program that expired after one year.