Gov. Phil Bryant signed several bills into law last week. Among them is a law that now makes it legal to run a DNA test of suspects accused of sexually assaulting a child without a conviction.
Dr. Hannah Gay, a pediatric HIV specialist at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, told The Clarion-Ledger she supported the bill because it would allow children who are sexually assaulted and possibly exposed to HIV to receive treatment immediately.
Prior to this law’s implementation, Mississippi required a conviction in order to test those accused of sexually assaulting children.
In January, Gay told The Clarion-Ledger the testing would help to prevent the spread of HIV.
The new law is largely an attempt to protect the already traumatized children who are sexually assaulted. She also said that in 2014, 34 child sexual assault victims were tested for HIV at UMMC and all tests were found to be negative.
While there is currently no cure for HIV/AIDS, early detection is very important to control the spread of AIDS in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Early detection also allows those who are infected to begin undergoing treatments in order to find the right “cocktail” of drugs in order to increase the strength of the immune system.
One of the concerns about the bill is the fact that it might be difficult to implement the early testing because suspects in child sexual assault cases are often not immediately identified.
This newly passed bill is a part of a set of bills introduced requiring DNA testing for suspects in violence-related crimes.