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Cook County Jail to test all inmates for HIV
High-risk populations will also be screened for other STDs

Thursday, June 24, 2010
Chicago Tribune
by Cynthia Dizikes

For the first time, all Cook County Jail inmates will be routinely screened for HIV unless they decline the test, according to Dr. Avery Hart, chief medical officer for Cermak Health Services of Cook County.

The new opt-out approach will replace current policy at the jail, which only tests inmates for HIV and sexually transmitted diseases upon request.

Under the new policy, which is expected to begin in July, those in high-risk populations will also be tested for gonorrhea, chlamydia and syphilis unless they turn down the screening. The jail dropped a similar program several years ago due to funding shortfalls.

The former STD testing was also the subject of a class-action lawsuit, alleging that thousands of men were forced to take invasive tests without their consent. That case settled for more than $4.5 million, said plaintiffs' attorney Thomas Morrissey.

As the new program begins, Hart said that jail officials and medical staff "are being very careful to ensure that opt-out is explained and understood to all incoming inmates."



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