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House shoots down AIDS education bill

In a late-night session Wednesday, the Oklahoma House rejected a bill that would update HIV and AIDS prevention education at public schools.

Among other provisions, the measure would have required curriculum include specific recommendations that people who engage in high-risk behavior should get tested and use available prevention methods, like condoms.

The bill also would delete references in state law that avoiding homosexuality, promiscuity, IV drug use and contact with contaminated blood is the only method of preventing HIV and AIDS. 

AIDS prevention education shall specifically teach students that:

1. engaging in homosexual activity, promiscuous sexual activity, intravenous drug use or contact with contaminated blood products is now known to be primarily responsible for contact with the AIDS virus;

2. avoiding the activities specified in paragraph 1 of this subsection is the only method of preventing the spread of the virus;

The bill by state Rep. Emily Virgin, D-Norman, would replace that language with a reference to "high-risk sexual activity" along with injection drugs and contaminated blood contact.

House Bill 1538 died by a vote of 47-41. Virgin can try to bring the bill back for another vote, but she has to do so before the House adjourns Thursday.

Representatives did not debate the bill, but questions centered on whether the bill creates an unfunded mandate for schools (Virgin said the Oklahoma Education Department doesn't think so) and statistics on HIV and AIDS prevalence in the state.

Before voting against the bill, state Rep. Chuck Strohm, R-Bixby, asked Virgin if the bill represents Oklahoma values.

Related Photos
State Rep. Emily Virgin, D-Norman

State Rep. Emily Virgin, D-Norman

<figure><img src="//" alt="Photo - State Rep. Emily Virgin, D-Norman" title="State Rep. Emily Virgin, D-Norman"><figcaption>State Rep. Emily Virgin, D-Norman</figcaption></figure>
Dale Denwalt

Dale Denwalt has closely followed state policy and politics since his first internship as an Oklahoma Capitol reporter in 2006. He graduated from Northeastern State University in his hometown of Tahlequah. Denwalt worked as a news reporter in... Read more ›