North Carolina: Testing Targets HIV in Infants
August 27, 2007
In North Carolina, where just one baby out of 127,464 delivered in 2006 was born with HIV, state officials are working to eliminate perinatal transmission of the virus altogether.
The N.C. Commission for Public Health, which develops rules for medical practitioners in the state, voted Wednesday to require HIV testing of any pregnant woman who presents to deliver her baby and has not previously been tested. Testing would also be required for any newborn brought to a medical facility if the mother's HIV status is not known. To take effect, the rules would have to be approved by the state's Rules Review Commission.
The earlier during pregnancy that a mother's HIV infection is known, the better the chances of preventing viral transmission to her baby. But even discovering the mother's HIV-positive status during labor, or within 12 hours of the birth, can help medical professionals dramatically improve outcomes.
State Health Director Leah M. Devlin said the move to require the test "is very progressive and very much a leadership role that the state is taking. It's giving a priority to the infant's health."
Women who understand the risk to their newborn are glad to be tested, said Jacquelyn Clymore, executive director of the Alliance of AIDS Services Carolina in Raleigh. A woman in an abusive relationship may sometimes be reluctant to be tested out of fear a positive result might escalate the abuse, but this is rare, Clymore said.
Most insurance covers HIV screening during pregnancy, and all state public health departments offer the test for free.
News & Observer (Raleigh)
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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.