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U.S. News

Rhode Island: Bill Would Add HIV Test to Prenatal Screening

April 10, 2007

Rep. Eileen Naughton (D-Warwick) has introduced a bill in the Rhode Island Legislature calling for HIV tests to be included in the panel of prenatal screenings for pregnant women. "They can perform the tests quickly, even while the mother is in labor and if need be, they can also still administer medications to reduce the chances of the disease being transmitted to the newborn," she said. "If the mother declines to have the test, then when the baby is born, the baby will be tested and, if necessary, will be provided with the appropriate medications."

Not only would the measure save lives, said Naughton, it would also save money by cutting costs associated with HIV care for children. Rhode Island has a growing caseload of pregnant women with HIV, she said, adding that the cost of care for HIV-positive children under age 18 in the state is roughly $650,000 per year: "We would be spending $120,000 [on the testing program] to save $650,000 annually and we'll be preventing a child from getting AIDS."

Last year, the HIV testing rate for women in the state was 53 percent, noted Naughton. New York, Connecticut and Illinois all achieved testing rates above 95 percent for the same period.

Naughton said she looked at New York's law and improved upon it by adding the creation of an advisory committee to help direct best practices for administering medicines and developing a list of community resources for new mothers.

Naughton's bill is extremely important for the state, said Dr. Brian Alverson, assistant professor of pediatrics at Brown Medical School and a staff member at Hasbro Children's Hospital. "It will dramatically improve the quality of life for children in Rhode Island and it has the broad support of physicians and community groups across the state."

Back to other news for April 2007

Adapted from:
Kent County Daily Times
4.10.2007; Matt Bower

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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.
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