New Jersey Proposes New HIV Testing Law for Pregnant Women and Newborns

New Jersey’s Senate president, Richard J. Codey, is proposing a new bill that is the first of its kind. Under this proposed bill. All pregnant women and their newborn children will be required to be tested for HIV. Under this new bill, women will be required to get an HIV test early in their pregnancies as well as during the third trimester. In addition, all birthing facilities would be required to test newborns that are within their care.

Current, New Jersey law only requires offering testing to pregnant women. With the new proposal, the test would automatically be given unless the woman requests in writing that it not be.

The inspiration behind this new bill proposal comes from a report made by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which reports that medical treatment for the disease during pregnancy can decrease the likelihood of passing it on to a newborn dramatically.

Currently, four states require testing mothers for HIV unless the mother specifically requests that she not be. These states are Arkansas, Michigan, Texas, and Tennessee. Two states, New York and Connecticut, require testing of newborns. No state, however, currently requires testing mothers and their children.

“The key in the fight against HIV and AIDS is early detection and treatment. For newborns this can be a lifesaving measure.” - Richard J. Codey, New Jersey Senate president

Women’s rights groups, particularly The Center for Women Policy Studies in Washington D.C., opposes the bill because it violates the woman’s right to make her own medical treatment and childbearing decisions. In New Jersey, however, which has some of the highest rates of AIDS cases in the nation, it appears to be the only answer to Codey.

The new bill proposals will be scheduled for a hearing within a few weeks. In order to become state law, it must first pass through both the Senate and the Assembly. Then, it must be signed by the governor.

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