HIV Presumption Bill Passes in Tennessee

Calling it "a huge victory," the International Association of Fire Fighters reports that an HIV presumption bill pushed through "nearly three years of lobbying" by the Tennessee Professional Fire Fighters Association has unanimously passed the state's House and Senate. Effective in July, it will be Tennessee's sole statewide presumption law, according to IAFF.

The bill presumes that HIV is a job-related illness for firefighters, paramedics, emergency medical technicians (EMTs), and EMT advanced.

"What really did it for us was earning the support of the leadership in the House and Senate," TPFFA President Eddie Mitchell said in the news report posted at "At one point, we had some members of the state legislature vowing not to vote in favor of the legislation. But with the help of the House speaker and the lieutenant governor, we were able to overcome those obstacles."

The bill originally included HIV, all forms of hepatitis, and some other infectious diseases, but it faced stiff opposition from legislators in that form. The compromise was to cover HIV alone in it. "While we didn't get everything we wanted, it is important to look at the big picture. Now that we finally have a presumptive law in place, there is a better chance that we can add more occupational diseases to the law in the future," Mitchell said. "We also have to acknowledge that this legislation was passed at a time when we were fighting off legislation that threatened dues deduction and other issues. To my knowledge, the TPFFA is the only labor organization to pass any legislation."

Posted by Jerry Laws on May 02, 2012