New Jersey To Test Fighters for HIV Starting Next Month
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) _ Beginning next month, pro boxers will have to take an AIDS test to fight in New Jersey.
Larry Hazard, commissioner of the State Athletic Control Board, said Thursday that anyone who tests positive will be banned from boxing in the state. The results will be given only to the boxers.
``We are saying to the boxing community that if you want to fight in New Jersey, you’ll need a test. Right now, a test will be a condition to licensure,″ Hazzard said.
Fighters will be tested for the HIV virus during their annual medical exam.
The decision came in the wake of heavyweight Tommy Morrison’s disclosure last month that he tested positive for HIV.
Medical experts say HIV is easily transmitted through blood, but that the odds of contracting it in the ring are extremely small. Still, Morrison’s announcement has prompted several to make HIV tests mandatory.
Before Morrison’s announcement, Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Puerto Rico required HIV testing.
Since then, at least three _ New York, Massachusetts and now New Jersey _ have either begun doing so or said they plan to.
Several New Jersey lawmakers have introduced legislation that would make the tests mandatory for professional fighters.
But Hazzard has the authority to require testing, regardless of the outcome of the legislation, according to Roger Shatzkin, a spokesman for the state attorney general.
``This is something that I feel very strongly that the boxing community wants. I don’t expect any challenges to this. But I’m prepared to do what i have to do,″ Hazzard said.
He said the frequency of the tests might be increased later to deal with someone who tests negative but contracts the virus later.
An AIDS advocate warned that HIV tests can’t be counted on to keep infected boxers out of the ring. What the tests do is look for the presence of antibodies that develop after the virus is contracted, but the antibodies can take up to six months to be detected, said Bill Mattle, executive director of the South Jersey AIDS Alliance.
``A test tells you your HIV status as of six months ago. It doesn’t tell you anything about your status now. It’s a snapshot of what you were like at a certain point in time,″ Mattle said.