Indiana Senate Health Committee Approves Mandatory HIV Testing for Pregnant Women and Infants
The Indiana Senate health committee on Wednesday voted 7-3 to pass a "controversial" bill (SB 312) that would require doctors to test consenting pregnant women for HIV, the Indianapolis Star reports. While a woman may refuse the test, her newborn infant would be tested "automatically without her consent." If an HIV-infected woman is diagnosed and treated with antiretroviral drugs during her pregnancy, her child has a 75% chance of being born without the virus, according to the Star. State Sen. Patricia Miller (R), who proposed the legislation, said that the current law, under which physicians are asked to educate women about the virus and offer a test, is insufficient. However, state Department of Health officials noted that 80% of pregnant women in Indiana are tested under the current law. State Sen. Earline Rogers (D) voted against the bill "amid concerns that it removes a woman's choice about being tested and might scare black women away from prenatal care." Rather than using mandatory testing, Rogers said that the government should emphasize education, counseling and treatment. Miller, who previously introduced two similar bills that were not approved by the committee, agreed to include in the legislation a provision for counseling to inform women about HIV and its transmission. Two other amendments were added to the bill before the committee vote -- one to ensure that test results remain confidential and the other requiring Medicaid and insurance companies to cover testing costs (Barton, Indianapolis Star, 2/1).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.