Posts Tagged ‘newborns

01
Jan
08

Pregnant Women in New Jersey must be tested for HIV

Washington Post reports that New Jersey this week launched one of the most ambitious efforts in the country to control mother-to-child transmission of HIV, making screening tests mandatory for all pregnant women in the state beginning next year.

A bill signed into law Wednesday by the Senate president, Richard J. Codey, in his capacity as acting governor, requires two tests for pregnant women, at the beginning of the pregnancy and again in the third trimester, unless the mother objects. If the mother objects, the objection will be noted and the newborn will then be tested for HIV, with the only exception being on religious grounds. Newborns will also be tested if the woman tests positive.

Just four other states have mandated testing for pregnant women, and three more– including New York — require screening of newborns. But New Jersey’s law appears to go further by requiring both.

The mandatory screening has raised privacy concerns. The American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey and the state’s chapter of the National Organization for Women both questioned whether the mandated tests violate a woman’s right to privacy and the right to make her own medical decisions.

Riki E. Jacobs, executive director of the Hyacinth AIDS Foundation, a New Jersey nonprofit helping people living with AIDS, said the law is unnecessary and comes when the state should be focused on expanding care for pregnant women. “I am adamantly opposed to this bill. New Jersey already reduced the perinatal rate of transmission with mandatory counseling of pregnant women,” she said. “The issue is getting those women who are not in prenatal care in for services and testing.

“I definitely think it is an invasion of privacy,” Jacobs said. She said women choose to test their babies in 98 percent of cases, so the new law’s mandatory provisions for testing children are not needed: “The fact that we assume women won’t choose to test is ludicrous and wrong.” Continue reading ‘Pregnant Women in New Jersey must be tested for HIV’

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