Decline in Vertical HIV Transmission in Connecticut Due to Law Requiring Prenatal Testing, Editorial Says
Mother-to-child HIV transmission in Connecticut has "plummeted" in recent years, due in part to a law that the state Legislature passed in 1999 requiring pregnant women be tested for HIV unless a woman refuses to be tested, a Hartford Courant editorial states. Eight cases of infants born with HIV were reported in the state in 1995, one in 2000, two in 2001, and no cases were reported last year, although data are incomplete for 2002, according to the Courant. Since the law's enactment, approximately 80% of pregnant woman are tested for HIV, up from 25% before the law was passed, the editorial states, adding that if a pregnant woman tests HIV-positive, she is offered antiretroviral treatment, which can "sharply" reduce her chance of vertical HIV transmission. According to the Courant, physicians also recommend that pregnant women receive a second HIV test in their third trimester, so that women who have been infected during their pregnancy can be treated and may avoid transmitting the virus to their infants. Although mother-to-child HIV transmission rates have decreased in the state, the rate of pregnant women testing HIV-positive has "shown little decline" in recent years, the Courant says. The editorial concludes, "In hindsight, it is hard to believe there was so much controversy in 1999 when the Legislature debated universal HIV testing for pregnant women. Even some vocal opponents of the law now concede they were wrong" (Hartford Courant, 4/9).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.