“Before and After” Comparison of Recent Changes to Pennsylvania’s HIV-testing Law

Below is an easy reference guide to changes made in 2011 to Pennsylvania’s Confidentiality of HIV-Related Information Act (known as Act 148) regarding HIV testing:

“Old” Act 148

“New” Act 148/Act 59

You must initiate an HIV test by asking for one.An HIV test may be offered in an “opt-out” format, meaning that the patient is advised that an HIV test will be performed unless she or he specifically declines it.
You must give your consent in writing before you can be given an HIV test.Written informed consent is not required for an HIV test. Instead, the health care provider shall “document” the patient’s consent or refusal to the test.[1]
You must be given negative and positive HIV test results and counseling in person (“face to face”). Results may not be given by mail or by phone.Negative test results no longer need to be given in person. (Positive test results still must be given in person.)
You must get pre-test and post-test counseling.Counseling before you get an HIV test isn’t required, though the test must be explained to you, including its purpose, how it could be used, its limitations and the meaning of the results.


[1] The new law does not specify how the documentation shall be made.