New law: HIV tests must be offered to pregnant women

A new law gives newborn babies and their mothers a better chance at a healthy life by making it mandatory for pediatricians to offer HIV testing to pregnant women.

The law is the first of its kind in the nation. Studies show that early HIV detection is the key to a better life. The law will allow for pregnant women to opt out of the testing, but every newborn will be tested.

Doctors believe with testing and treatment, the infection can be prevented at least 98 percent of the time. Prevention includes the HIV positive mother receiving the medication AZT, delivering the baby via C-section and avoiding breast feeding.

Critics of the law say it takes away the mother?s choice to have her baby tested, but some mothers disagree.

?I deserve a chance to know and my baby deserves a chance to know and we all deserve a chance to be healthy,? Ayesha Chase says. Chase gave birth to her first child, Isaiah, on Christmas Eve. Both were tested for HIV, and both are healthy.

That signing of the law at University Hospital in Newark follows years of study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which found that HIV transmission rates can be reduced to less than 2 percent, if detected early in the mother.

The Department of Health and Senior Services will be responsible for adopting regulations to carry out the testing requirements. In most cases, the cost of testing will be picked up either by Medicaid or by the mother's health provider.

For footage of the press conference on the HIV bill signing, go to Channel 612 on your cable box and select iO Extra.

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