Mandatory Testing for Moms and Newborns?

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April 26 2007 11:00 PM ET

New Jersey senate president Richard J. Codey says he plans to introduce legislation that would require HIV screening of pregnant women and newborns unless the mother requests in writing not to have the test. Under the measure pregnant women would be given information about HIV and the benefits of testing as well as about treatments that reduce the risks of mother-to-child transmission.

'If early detection can help reduce newborn infections and improve the quality of life for newborns and women that are infected,' Codey says, 'then by all means we should be doing it.'

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that all pregnant women be tested for HIV and states that such testing 'should be voluntary and free of coercion.' Proper interventions can reduce a mother's risk of transmitting HIV to her infant to just 2%, down from 25% without such measures.

Arkansas, Michigan, Tennessee, and Texas require health care providers to screen mothers for HIV unless a mother specifically asks not to be tested. Connecticut and New York test all newborns.

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