Alabama Gov. Bob Riley signed legislation Tuesday that would give victims of sexual assault some peace of mind.
It took four years to pass the bill that requires suspects arrested for rape or sexual assault to undergo tests for HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases if the victims request it.
Beverly Youse helps with victims of sexual assault and has been working with others to have this bill passed.
"I can't imagine being a rape victim and not knowing if that person that I believe sexually assaulted me has or does not have a disease that could kill me, so it just adds more stress to somebody whose life has been turned upside down and ripped inside out and will never be the same again," said Youse.
Rep. David Grimes was approached by one of his constituents about a problem she was dealing with after her assault. Currently it is only after a person is convicted that a person could be tested and that could take anywhere between one to two years. The new law would expedite the process.
Registered Nurse Cindy Woodham said, "There is rapid HIV testing available where results come back in 20 minutes."
To protect those who have been accused, the bill notes that test results cannot be used against them in trial and that only a few people will have access to the information.
“I've been doing this for 21 years and I can say this is probably the bill that had the most potential for controversy. I'm very pleased that both chambers of the Legislature saw the wisdom on passing this and giving some peace of mind to victims of sexual assault,” said Youse.
The court will also be able to order the suspect to do any follow-up tests. The law will go into effect in three months.
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