New Jersey to test pregnant women for HIV

Filed under: Your Pregnancy, Health & Safety: Babies

The state of New Jersey has moved to make HIV testing mandatory for all pregnant women, both at the start of the pregnancy and again during the third trimester. If a woman declines -- it is allowed -- then her baby will be tested. The child will also be tested if the mother tested positive for HIV.

The idea is to reduce the incidence of mother-to-infant transmission of the virus. With early detection, antiretroviral therapy can reduce the risk of transmission to less than 2 percent. State senate president and acting governor, Richard J. Codey, signed the bill at a hospital last Wednesday. "We can significantly reduce the number of infections to newborns and help break down the stigma associated with the disease," he said. "For newborns, early detection can be the ultimate lifesaving measure."

Of course, the plan is not without its opponents. Both the state chapters of the ACLU and the National Organization of Women have questioned the law improperly violates a woman's right to privacy. In addition, Riki E. Jacobs, executive director of a New Jersey non-profit that helps people living with AIDS, has come out against the law, noting that "New Jersey already reduced the perinatal rate of transmission with mandatory counseling of pregnant women. The issue is getting those women who are not in prenatal care in for services and testing."

I'm not sure which side is right. On the one hand, you would think that women would want to do everything they could to ensure the good health of their children, but on the other, I'm not sure it's the government's place to force women to undergo such testing. What do you think? Should the government require women to be tested or should that be a personal choice?

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.