Attention: This is not a current document. It is an excerpt from the Web page of the former Colorado governor, Roy Romer. It is displayed by the Colorado State Archives for its historical value.
June 4, 1998
To the Honorable Colorado Senate
Sixty-First General Assembly
Second Regular Session
Denver, CO 80203
Ladies and Gentlemen:
I have returned to the Secretary of State Senate Bill 98-137, "Concerning Use of
HIV Testing Information in Cases Where the Person Tested is Charged With a Crime Involving
Sexual Behavior," which I vetoed today at 6:22 p.m. . This letter sets forth
my reasons for vetoing this bill.
This bill has two provisions. First, the bill requires a person who is convicted under
a municipal ordinance such as prostitution or patronizing a prostitute to submit to HIV
testing. The results of that test would be reported to the district or municipal attorney,
and the prosecuting attorney would be able to use this information to prosecute a repeat
offender with the crime of prostitution or solicitation with prior knowledge of HIV. I
support this aspect of the bill.
Second, the bill would require the court to order any person who has been accused of a
sex offense consisting of sexual penetration to submit to HIV testing. The results would
be reported to the district attorney, and if the person tests positive, the district
attorney would be able to seek information from the Colorado Department of Public Health
and Environment concerning whether the person had been notified prior to the date of the
offense that he or she tested positive. The district attorney would then be able to use
the accused person's HIV status to charge them with the sex offense with prior knowledge
I am vetoing this bill for three reasons. First, I am deeply concerned that if signed,
this legislation would have a chilling effect on the concept of confidential HIV testing.
For the past ten years, individuals have voluntarily tested with the understanding that
their results will remain private and confidential. Testing data are used by health
officials to help understand and control the spread of HIV/AIDS, and to ensure that HIV
data are complete, accurate and reliable for directing programs and resources. I am
reluctant to allow changes that renege on our promise of confidentiality for those who
have already tested. In addition, I fear that breaching confidentiality would result in
fewer people testing for HIV, fewer people accessing treatment, and fewer opportunities to
control the spread of the disease in the community. Our confidential testing system has
worked well for ten years and I object to any efforts which would hamper our primary goal
of controlling HIV in our state.
Second, I am concerned about the manner in which this breach of confidentiality would
occur. In the legislation, being bound over for trial triggers the request for information
regarding whether a person has been notified that they have HIV. A person bound over has
not been found guilty, and yet, this legislation treats a person as such. The information
about whether someone had prior notification that they are infected with HIV could then be
used publicly during the trial. Someone who is found not guilty would then have to deal
with their confidentiality having been breached. The opportunity to deal with the
infection privately is gone; it has become a matter of public information.
Finally, I believe provisions in current law already allow a prosecuting attorney to
seek a higher sentence in a sex offense involving sexual penetration. Recently, I signed
H.B. 98-1156 which substantially increases penalties for and provides lifetime supervision
of sex offenders. Also, under current law, the accused submits to an HIV test and the
victim of a sexual offense is informed of the accused offender's HIV status if he or she
is HIV positive. As such, victims of sexual offenses who have been exposed to HIV are able
to seek early treatment for the disease.
In conclusion, I believe this bill would have a negative impact on our efforts to
curtail the spread of HIV in our state. Confidential testing is essential to our success
in fighting this disease, and any breach in confidentiality will dissuade many persons
from testing, getting into treatment and participating in partner notification programs.
At the end of the day, the larger good of the public health will be compromised. I have no
sympathy for sex offenders, and I think they should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of
the law. However, I do not think we should use confidential public health surveillance
information to prosecute people for these offenses - other laws are in place which
accomplish the same goal. Therefore, I have vetoed this bill.
Last modified June 18, 2003