In an about face, the Louisiana Senate on Monday approved a bill that would allow inmates leaving state prisons to undergo tests for the virus that causes AIDS.

The measure, House Bill 191, earlier failed to gain the needed majority on an 18-15 vote, two shy of the minimum needed.

It won approval 38-0 on Monday.

State Sen. Rick Gallot, D-Ruston, sponsor for the measure, said the initial vote stemmed from a misunderstanding.

“I hope you now understand what this does and can see that this is a good, common sense measure that hopefully will save lives,” Gallot told the Senate.

Under the bill, inmates leaving state prisons would be allowed to take a test for HIV.

If the results are positive, the inmate would be referred to health care and support services.

Gallot said the change would cost the state about $17,000, which he and others noted is far less than treating AIDS patients.

State Sen. Gerald Long, R-Winnfield, said he initially opposed the bill but now backs it.

Long said he was “likely misinformed.”

The bill won House approval last month 93-0.