Connecticut Law Mandating HIV Testing for Pregnant Women is Successful, Studies Say
A Connecticut state law implemented two years ago that mandates prenatal HIV screening has "success[fully]" increased the number of pregnant women who are tested, according to two studies presented at the annual meeting of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. The first study, conducted by Dr. Urania Magriples of Yale University, compared the "testing status" of 180 women who obtained prenatal care at a Yale health care clinic to 187 pregnant women who were treated at the clinic before the law was enacted. The study found that prior to the mandate, 38.9% of women were tested for HIV, and after the law was enacted, 91% of women were tested. Magriples said that she initially opposed the law because she thought it was "coercive." Now, she says the law "appeals to the maternal instinct in these women to protect their babies." Magriples added that pregnant women who test positive for HIV are given highly active antiretroviral therapy during pregnancy to help protect the fetus against HIV. The second study, conducted by Dr. William Cusick of Stamford Hospital in Connecticut, followed 2,239 pregnant women during the first 10 months of the law's implementation. Cusick found that among these women, seven women were identified as HIV-positive and "two additional cases -- a husband and a child -- were identified after a positive test result in the pregnant woman." Cusick said, "Without the mandatory testing, I think we would have missed six of these nine cases." He added, "The results of our study demonstrate that the law is working exactly as intended." According to Cusick, Connecticut is the only state that requires HIV testing for pregnant women. While ACOG and the American Academy of Pediatrics in 1999 issued a joint policy statement on HIV screening stating that both groups "support the recommendation of the Institute of Medicine for universal HIV testing with patient notification as a routine component of prenatal care," ACOG does not support mandatory testing (Reuters Health, 5/2).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.