Illinois Senate Takes ‘Half-Step’ Toward Reducing HIV Vertical Transmission, Chicago Tribune Editorial Says
The Illinois Senate has taken a "half-step" toward reducing mother-to-child HIV transmission by considering a bill (SB 263) that would require health care professionals to provide pregnant women with HIV counseling and voluntary testing, a Chicago Tribune editorial says (Chicago Tribune, 5/1). The bill, which has already passed the Senate and is expected to be considered in the House soon, would require that any pregnant woman who decides to be tested for HIV sign an informed consent form before undergoing the test, a system otherwise known as "opt-in" testing. However, under the measure, infants born to women whose HIV status is not known would automatically be tested for the virus, unless the mother signed a form to "opt-out" of the infant testing (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 4/22). However, "the impact of the legislation is likely to be modest" because women can still refuse the test, the editorial says. If doctors are "too busy or too insensitive" to provide adequate counseling, the requirements "could turn out to be a complete dud," the editorial states. However, if properly administered, the counseling provision "is likely to have the greater impact," as it could change high-risk behavior and prompt a young woman who became pregnant through unprotected sex from contracting HIV in the future, the Tribune says. The editorial concludes, "To make a more serious dent in the spread of HIV/AIDS ... legislators will have to tackle issues such as teenage sex, condom distribution, needle-exchange programs -- and in all likelihood, they will have to revisit the routine testing of newborn babes" (Chicago Tribune, 5/1).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.