New law to require HIV testing in sex crimes

Published 10:22 am Friday, March 27, 2015

On Feb. 13, Governor Phil Bryant signed into law House Bill 257 which would require HIV testing for all persons arrested for commission of a sex crime against a minor.

Section one of the bill outlines that people arrested for a sex crime against a minor shall be tested for the HIV and AIDS. It also outlines that the testing be done within 24 hours of arrest. The bill passed through both the senate and the house with all voting in favor of the bill.

Lincoln County Sheriff Steve Rushing said most testing the sheriff’s office participates in is getting DNA or blood work done for evidence purposes. He said to get any blood work done they must get a search warrant.

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“They can sign a waiver of consent, but we do it just to have court documentation,” Sheriff Rushing said.

Sheriff Rushing said his office usually goes to King’s Daughters Medical Center or another clinic to take care of the testing they currently do.

A previous version of the bill cited testing for people arrested for any sex crime and the term “minor” was added later via a special commission.

“Unfortunately, when you see bills this specific, it’s probably something that has happened to someone,” Rep. Becky Currie (R-Brookhaven) said. “Any crime against a child is a horrible thing and with the possibility of such diseases on top of the other trauma, it is imperative to test.”

Rep. Bobby Moak (D-Bogue Chitto) said in the public policy scheme, minors seem to be more protected than adults and, in regards to this specific legislation, he thinks its best for the protection of the minor and family to know that type of information.

Sen. Sally Doty (R-Brookhaven) was on the committee that amended the original document to focus the bill towards sex crimes against minors.

“The most vulnerable are out children,” she said. “If we can do something to provide further protection for them I am all for it.”

The bill shall take effect July 1.Rushing said his office is going to set guidelines and develop procedures in order to be ready by that date.