New State Regulation Requires All Infants Born in New York Be Tested for HIV Within 12 Hours of Birth
A new state regulation will require all infants born in New York whose mothers have not been tested for HIV during their pregnancy be tested for the virus within 12 hours of birth, the New York Post reports. Under the rule, which takes effect Nov. 1, the results of the newborn's HIV test must be reported to health care workers within 12 hours of birth so that treatment to prevent vertical HIV transmission can begin as soon as possible. Pregnant women who have not already been tested for HIV will be encouraged to be tested when they arrive at the birthing facility; the infants of women who decline the test will automatically be tested without parental consent. Previously, HIV testing of newborns had to be conducted within 48 hours of birth, the Post reports. However, the risk of vertical HIV transmission decreases if antiretroviral therapy is begun within 12 hours of birth, Kristine Smith, a spokesperson for the state Department of Health, said (Lovett, New York Post, 9/13). "The sooner the better," Smith said, adding, "If you can start this therapy (on the fetus) even during labor if you know the mother is infected, it's even more successful." According to clinical trials, if antiretroviral drugs are administered to an infant within 12 hours of birth, the mother-to-child HIV transmission rate is about 6%; however, the rate increases to 25% after 12 hours -- about the same rate as if no drugs were administered, according to the AP/Albany Times Union (Stashenko, AP/Albany Times Union, 9/15). The rate of vertical HIV transmission in New York declined from 25% in 1997 to 3.5% in 2002 after the state enacted the 48-hour rule for newborn testing in 1997 (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 2/12/02).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.