Cases of HIV-Infected Newborns Decline in New York
June 7, 2004
Eight years after New York state began requiring that mothers be notified if their infants test positive for HIV, its number of newborns with HIV has reached a record low. Between 1997 and 2002, the state Health Department reported a 78 percent decline in infected babies born to infected mothers. Access to drug therapy and prenatal care is credited with the decline. The number of HIV-infected newborns in the United States fell from a high of 1,760 in 1991 to as few as 280 in 2000, CDC reports.Adapted from:
New York has routinely tested newborns for numerous conditions, including HIV infection, since 1987. But the state attributes the recent decline to a 1996 law requiring that mothers be told if their babies test positive so immediate treatment can be given. Under state law, consent is not necessary to perform the HIV test on an infant. Although pregnant women are not required to undergo HIV testing, about 95 percent do so before delivery.
While they praise the drop in mother-to-infant transmissions, AIDS advocacy groups say the state should not get all the credit: Even before the 1996 law, many women were choosing to get tested and, if infected, to take AIDS drugs to prevent the virus from spreading to the baby.
"This is a good example of a well-intentioned piece of legislation that was poorly targeted," said Christina Kazanas, director of policy and programs at the New York AIDS Coalition. "Testing the newborn after birth is not the primary way [mother-to-baby transmission] is being prevented."
In 2003, New York state required that birth centers return newborns' blood test results within 12 hours instead of the original 48 hours, because research shows that drug therapies work best during the shorter time frame. Without treatment, there is a one in four chance that an HIV-infected woman will transmit the virus to her baby.
06.06.04; Alicia Chang
This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.