NJ First To Require HIV Screening For Mother & Child

This Wednesday, acting Governor Richard Codey signed a new law requiring AIDs tests be administered to both expectant mother and baby, as part of their routine prenatal care. From The Star Ledger:

The mandatory tests are urgent in light of statistics in New Jersey, said Robert Johnson, interim dean of the New Jersey Medical School.
One in 313 women age 13 or older is living with HIV/AIDS in the state, according to New Jersey Department of Health statistics quoted by Johnson.

Medicaid or the insurance carrier will be footing the bill for the screenings; according to the law however, a woman can opt out of the test, but only if she clears it with her doctor. Nevertheless, the infant must still be screened.

AIDS and HIV advocates expressed mixed feelings about mandatory screening, voicing concern for infants but noting that discrimination against AIDS carriers is still a reality. Mothers could be hurt by a positive test, they reasoned, if word got out.

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18 COMMENTS

  1. Can Corzine stay away so Codey can remain “acting” Governor, since the bearded wonder has been acting “Governor” for too long?

  2. Everyone is avoiding the 800-lb. gorilla in the room. What if a pregnant mom finds out she’s HIV-positive or has full-blown AIDS? What then?

  3. Miss Martta –
    No gorilla–the woman should go on meds to reduce the chances of passing on the virus to the baby. The info below was taken from the March of Dimes website.
    “An estimated 120,000 to 160,000 women in the United States are living with the virus, and many do not know it (1). About 80 percent of these women are of childbearing age (1). Since 1985, approximately 9,400 children in the United States have contracted AIDS, and about 5,000 have died (1, 2). More than 90 percent contracted the virus from their mothers during pregnancy or birth (2).
    A 1994 government study showed that drug treatment during pregnancy greatly reduces the risk that an HIV-infected mother will pass the virus on to her baby (3). Since then, the number of babies in the United States who contract the virus from their mothers has dropped dramatically, from a high of about 1,650 in 1991 to an estimated 144 to 236 in 2004 (4). ”

  4. Amazing, huh? A woman and “mother” has the “right” to have the baby ripped limb from limb (in-utero, of course) but doesn’t have the right to prevent state mandated “efforts” at protecting the child….

  5. While I understand the efficacy of identifying and treating mothers who are HIV positive or who have AIDS, the reasons why mandatory testing has not been done before is that it violates the mother’s rights and it may drive women away from much-needed prenatal care. If the mother doesn’t come to clinic for check ups, get prenatal vitaimins and nutrition counseling, this, too, is a danger to them and to society. Overall, though, I’m proud and happy that New Jersey has taken the leap because I personally agree that neonates deserve to have protection from the virus, and it outweights the mother’s rights to choose testing or not. Most people don’t get tested out of fear or ignorance.
    I’m assuming that the mother being tested will recieve the same sensitive counseling when her HIV status is revealed that anyone else would. Having the chance to take anti-viral meds during preganancy really protects the infant in most cases. Of course there is always the option of aborting, but many people live full lives with medication, so it’s not really an issue of whether one would live to raise the child like it used to be. At least not here in the US. (Not the case of Africa or other 3rd world countries.)

  6. “Overall, though, I’m proud and happy that New Jersey has taken the leap because I personally agree that neonates deserve to have protection from the virus, and it outweights the mother’s rights to choose testing or not.”
    And in nearly the same breath you say the mother has the right to abort.
    So why does the “neonate” deserve protection from a virus and not protection from death by abortion.
    This is the obvious logic in the bill but it makes no sense.
    Can some liberal/progressive person explain this? It makes no sense.

  7. I consider myself to be a liberal/progressive person but no, I cannot explain this. Abortion seems to me to be the Achilles heel in any progressive platform.

  8. There is a very illiberal core at the center of the issue. It boils down to the rights of the unborn being dependent on the “wantedness” of the fetus by the mother. In other words, being eligible for the rights of humanity are “granted” by the mother.

  9. “So why does the ‘neonate’ deserve protection from a virus and not protection from death by abortion?”
    I, too, am puzzled by this conundrum. Certainly makes for an interesting topic of discussion.

  10. Here’s the answer—logical or not:
    Maybe it’s because I think it’s worse to be alive, unwanted and infected with the virus than it is to be aborted early in a pregnancy?
    Maybe because some people in our society believe that its okay to decide what others rights are for their bodies, but they don’t want to ensure that the resulting child is loved or cared for and ends up with a future that’s a nighmare or worse. It’s a woman’s right to choose whether she wants to take the chance for her fetus’s future health (if she tests positive) and whether she knows that she has the support systems in place to make sure the child is properly cared for if she were to die or become too sick to care for the child. Or would the anti-choice people step in and lovingly take care of that child like they do for so many addicted woman who give birth?

  11. “Maybe it’s because I think it’s worse to be alive, unwanted and infected with the virus than it is to be aborted early in a pregnancy?”
    Oh you Eugenicist you! (Play God Often?)
    I wonder how many people living with HIV would agree that they’d be better off dead?
    But yours is the answer I expected:
    It’s ok to kill a fetus but NOT okay to deny it an HIV test, because someone has decided it would be better off dead…

  12. “A 1994 government study showed that drug treatment during pregnancy greatly reduces the risk that an HIV-infected mother will pass the virus on to her baby.”
    I wonder if there have been any studies about the effects of these drugs on the fetus overall. There are so many “don’ts” out there directed at pregnant women, some of them with real basis in scientific fact, others not. For example:
    Don’t drink alcohol in the first trimester.
    Don’t color your hair.
    Don’t eat sushi.
    Don’t take certain OTC medications like antihistamines.
    Granted the AIDS drugs save lives but they are potent nonetheless. And that’s with adults! Has anyone ever done any studies on the effects of these drugs on unborn children?

  13. Miss Martta,
    i agree with you. there are so many things you aren’t allowed to take during pregnancy, short of prenatal vitamins & a tylenol (or tylenol derivative). heck, they don’t even really want you to have an x-ray during that time. truly hope there has been some thorough research on the effects this may have on the unborn fetus.
    ROC, you made an excellent point.

  14. Good lord, of course public health officials are aware of the possible teratogenic effects of some, and I stress SOME, antiretroviral meds during pregnancy! I can’t believe that people think that this wasn’t thought of before making a public health recommendation. Go to the March of Dimes website and see for yourself (it doesn’t take much to do a little sound medical research before posting about these “crazy rash decisions” that anger you so).
    After large scale studies, researchers have deemed that administering HIV meds to HIV positive women while pregnant and also delivering the baby via C-section significantly reduces the risk of the baby contracting HIV. And treated babies present with transient anemia which subsequently resolves after the meds are stopped. Not so sure what all the controversy is about.
    Well, of course there is controversy from the likes of ROC who is angered about a woman’s legal right to end a pregnancy but a little common sense can lead one to realize that this law and a woman’s right to abortion are two separate issues.

  15. “but a little common sense can lead one to realize that this law and a woman’s right to abortion are two separate issues.”
    Yes, one is a law protecting the health of the fetus and the other is a law which allows the fetus to be killed.
    Obviously, two separate issues…

  16. One law is allowing a woman to choose whether to have a child and the other law is protecting the health of a child that WILL (likely) be born.
    If you are pro-life and feel that the life of the fetus should be protected then you should support this law. I understand why you and others are opposed to abortion but really, if your primary interest is to safeguard the health of an unborn child, then this is a law that you should support.
    But, your “ripped limb from limb” comment is inappropriate. There are fetuses affected with chromosomal, genetic, and developmental disorders that are very severe and women and families are sadly forced to make a decision whether to continue the pregnancy after taking into consideration the quality of life of the baby and the effect on the family including other children.
    I’m obviously pro-choice but I don’t even know why I’m bothering to make a case for why abortion should be allowed. There is nothing in this world that would change your mind and like I said, I understand your opposition, I just don’t agree with you.
    Regardless, show a little consistency and stop arguing about a law that will protect the health of a child that will be born.

  17. “re fetuses affected with chromosomal, genetic, and developmental disorders that are very severe and women and families are sadly forced to make a decision whether to continue the pregnancy after taking into consideration the quality of life of the baby and the effect on the family including other children.”
    Abortions are performed for different reasons and they are not morally equivalent.
    Some might euthanize an aged and sick dog to end its suffering. Others might do the same because the dog no longer “suits” their lifestyle.
    Though the outcomes are the same, the acts are not equally moral.
    Personally, I think such outcome based morality is the logical consequence of so-called “Secular Humanism.”
    The facts are that the vast majority of abortions are done as a means of birth control.
    That our “progressive” state government supports mandated health measures be taken for the fetus only so long as such action does not impinge on the mother’s “right” to kill it brings such twisted and fractured “morality” into sharp relief.

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