New York State Law Requiring HIV Tests for Newborn Infants ‘Truly Saves Lives,’ Editorial Says
New York Assembly Member Nettie Mayersohn (D) "deserves a great deal of credit" for proposing a 1996 state law that requires the state to test newborns for HIV and inform the parents when an infant tests HIV-positive, according to a Long Island Newsday editorial. New York Gov. George Pataki (R) last week said that the number of HIV-positive infants born to women with the virus has declined by 78% since the law was enacted, according to the editorial. The figures prove that the law "truly saves lives," Newsday says. The law "ignited a furious response" from civil libertarians when it was first proposed, but Mayersohn said that the interests of infants "override" the privacy rights of mothers, the editorial says. However, Mayersohn does not "merit all of the applause" for the drop in the number of HIV-positive newborns, the editorial says, noting that FDA approved antiretroviral drugs to prevent mother-to-child HIV transmission in the 1990s and the state Department of Health developed a "strong" program to test and treat pregnant women "as early ... as possible." In addition, some opponents' complaints that the law was "too little too late" have been "dispelled" because voluntary HIV testing during early pregnancy now "is the standard of care in New York," the editorial says. The law "never should have turned into a furor over values" because the "real issue was always about care," the editorial concludes (Long Island Newsday, 6/1).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.