Georgia: Pregnant Women May Face HIV Test
February 23, 2007
On Thursday, the House Health and Human Services Committee approved a bill that would require Georgia doctors to offer HIV tests to pregnant women. Under House Bill 429, doctors would also be required to refer HIV-infected women to counseling and medical services. While women would have the option of declining testing, their refusal would be noted in their patient records. The legislation will now go the Rules Committee, which sets the agenda for House floor votes.
The bill's sponsor, Rep. Sharon Cooper (R-Marietta), said almost a quarter of the state's pregnant women are not tested for HIV because their doctors do not consider them at risk. "In most cases, it is middle-class women" who are not offered testing, Cooper said. "And their physician or their health care provider doesn't consider them to be in the high-risk pool. And unfortunately, if you know anything about [HIV], everyone is at risk."
Estimates from the state Department of Human Resources Division of Public Health show 20-30 babies are born with HIV each year in Georgia, said Cooper. Treatment runs an estimated $600,000 per infant, agency figures show.
Treating HIV-positive pregnant women in their first trimester can lower their babies' chance of becoming infected to 1 percent, compared to 25 percent for infected mothers who do not get treatment, Cooper noted.
HB 429 is being backed by the Georgia Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Georgia Obstetrical and Gynecological Society. "There is no question that this does save lives," said Dr. William Sexson of GCAAP. "The impact on human life is dramatic. And if we know about this HIV disease, we can do something to help the kids and help the mothers prevent problems in future pregnancies."
02.23.2007; Jeremy Redmon
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.