Illinois Gov. Signs Bill Requiring HIV Testing of Infants Born to Untested Women
Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) on Friday signed into law a bill (HB 4306) that mandates HIV testing of infants born to women whose HIV status is unknown, the AP/Belleville News-Democrat reports (AP/Belleville News-Democrat, 6/23). Illinois since August 2004 has required hospitals and clinics to counsel pregnant women about HIV and offer blood tests for the virus. As a result, the percentage of pregnant women who know their HIV status before they leave the hospital has increased from 72% to 98%. The state's former law required any pregnant woman who decided to be tested to sign an informed consent form before undergoing the test. The former law also said that infants born to women whose HIV status was unknown also automatically had to be tested for the virus unless the mother signed a form to opt out of the infant testing. Under the new law, sponsored by state Rep. Mary Flowers (D), infants born to women whose HIV status is unknown automatically will be tested unless a parent or guardian submits a written form to the physician stating that the test "conflicts with his or her religious tenets and practices" (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 1/23). The task force monitoring the state's voluntary Perinatal Rapid Testing Implementation program said only 1.9% of 13,205 infants born in December 2005 were not tested. Although opponents of the law argue that mandatory testing for infants could compromise the confidentiality of the pregnant women's status, some physicians have said immediate treatment for infants exposed to HIV might prevent mother-to-child transmission, the AP/New-Democrat reports. The law takes effect immediately (AP/Belleville News-Democrat, 6/23).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.