JACKSON, Miss.- If your child has been a victim of sexual assault, wouldn’t you want to know immediately if the assaulter was positive for HIV? Well, for years, the law in Mississippi has been that the perpetrator didn’t have to be tested until after they were convicted of the crime, which could take years to accomplish. Well now, the Governor signed into law in late March House Bill 257, which will require anyone accused of sexually abusing a child to be tested within 24 hours of the arrest.
Backing up to before this law was passed, University of Mississippi Medical Center Associate Professor of Pediatrics Dr. Hannah Gay came up with a safety protocol put in place specifically for sexually abused children in the Emergency Department at UMMC, in which they’re immediately given an antiviral combination of drugs that significantly reduces the risk of and HIV infection. It’s a 28-day process, and apparently it really takes a toll on the kids that it’s provided to, with traumatic effects on them and their families.
This new process will put many families of victims at a great psychological ease, because the test is supposedly going to give an answer within hours of the testing.
“This is an amazing thing for our most vulnerable children in the state of Mississippi,” said Children’s Safe Center director, and Executive Director of Prevent Child Abuse Mississippi Rebecca Mansell. “I was a prosecutor for almost 17 years for the state of Mississippi. I understand how important it is, not only for the children, but for their parents. The parents already are suffering the trauma of knowing their child has been sexually abused, but they also are faced with wondering if there will be a possible lifelong battle with a disease.”
The law will go into effect on July 1st, and Governor Bryant is going to do the Ceremonial Signing of the Bill on April 24th at 4:00.