Florida Senate Committee Approves Bill That Would Require HIV Testing for Almost All Newborns
The Florida Senate Health, Aging and Long-Term Care Committee on Tuesday approved a bill (SB 144) that would require HIV testing for nearly all infants born in the state, the AP/Lakeland Ledger reports. Senators on Tuesday amended the bill, which was sponsored by Sen. Evelyn Lynn (R), to allow women to opt out of testing for their newborns for religious reasons, but some lawmakers said that all parents should be allowed to waive testing. Current state law calls for pregnant women to be offered HIV testing twice during their pregnancy and to receive HIV testing counseling, but HIV testing of pregnant women is not mandatory. Approximately 205,000 infants were born in Florida in 2002, about 20 of whom were born HIV-positive, according to state health officials. However, Lynn said that estimates of the number of HIV-positive infants born in the state are "useless" because not all infants are tested, the AP/Ledger reports. Several lawmakers who voted in support of the legislation said that they would push for changes to the bill that would allow HIV testing of newborns to be optional, according to the AP/Ledger. Sen. Durell Peaden (R), chair of the Senate Health Appropriations Subcommittee, which will also consider the measure, said that he will work with Lynn to address some of the concerns about the bill. Currently, only Connecticut and New York have mandatory HIV testing for newborns, according to the AP/Ledger (AP/Lakeland Ledger, 1/6).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.