Bill to update HIV/AIDS education vetoed
An effort to update Oklahoma's 1987 law requiring AIDS education in public schools ended with Gov. Kevin Stitt's veto of House Bill 1018.
"I'm not happy with it at all," the bill's author, Rep. Marcus McEntire, said Wednesday. "The state statue doesn't even refer to HIV because it's so old."
Stitt said the changes proposed in HB 1018 were unnecessary because current law mandates the departments of health and education to "update HIV and AIDS education curriculum as newly discovered medical facts become available."
That mandate hasn't worked, said McEntire, R-Duncan.
"The state Department of Education hasn't updated the curriculum. I pleaded my case, but I failed," he said.
"We'll regroup and see what we can do," McEntire said. "It may be putting pressure on the state Department of Education."
In his veto message, Stitt encouraged the departments of health and education "to work with their federal counterparts ... to ensure AIDS education curriculum is medically accurate."
"The Stitt Administration looks forward to these two agencies taking the lead on updating the current curriculum," said Baylee Lakey, the governor's communications director.
President Donald Trump has announced a focus on ending new HIV infections in the U.S. by 2030. Oklahoma is one of seven states targeted in the initiative.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield said preventing HIV infection involves a comprehensive strategy that includes sex education.
Redfield said 7,000 Oklahomans are living with HIV — with 1 in 7 unaware of their infection — and 1,450 have died from HIV since the late 1990s.