Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Compulsory HIV testing for pregnant women in NJ on the cards

Anita Kleinsmidt sent this news item... interesting.

New Jersey Aims At Compulsory HIV Test For New Borns, Pregnant Women

New Jersey plans to become the first state in the United States to make HIV testing mandatory for pregnant women and newborns, under a proposal introduced Thursday. The new proposal, which was suggested by Senate President Richard J. Codey, D-Essex, eyes at introducing legislation for compulsory HIV testing for all pregnant women and newborns, unless the mother refuses in writing.

Currently four states, Arkansas, Michigan, Tennessee and Texas, have a legislation that requires health-care providers to test a mother for HIV, unless the mother refuses to do so in writing. The only two states that have compulsory HIV test for newborns are Connecticut and New York.

Strongly advocating his views for a compulsory HIV test, the Democratic leader believes that early detection and treatment can save lives of many by reduce their infections and improve the quality of life.

The bill, if passed would make an HIV test compulsory for all pregnant women as early as possible in their pregnancy and again during their third trimester. Also, each birthing facility in the state would have orders to test every newborn in its care for HIV.

According to AP reports, the current law in the New Jersey only requires HIV testing to pregnant women. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention says that early detection can prevent many HIV-infected women from transmitting the virus to the infant.

Experts believe that drugs during pregnancy can minimize mother-to-child HIV transmission to 2 percent, compared to 13 percent if no drugs are used until labor and delivery. It was also found that the HIV risk was reduced to 25 percent if no drugs are ever used.

According to the Kaiser Foundation, New Jersey has about 17,700 AIDS cases, which includes about 5,800 women. It is the fifth-highest total for women in the United States. It was also found that 772 pediatric AIDS cases in the state make it the third highest in the nation behind New York and Florida.

New Jersey also had 409 child HIV cases in 2005, which is the second highest in the nation behind New York.

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