Physicians, Health Officials Urge Nevada Legislators To Support HIV Testing Bill Aimed at Pregnant Women
Physicians and health care officials on Wednesday called on Nevada lawmakers to support a bill (SB 266) that would guarantee all pregnant women in the state have access to an HIV test as part of routine prenatal care, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Steven Horsford (D) and Rep. David Parks (D), states that doctors "shall ensure" pregnant women have access to HIV screening, but it allows the women to opt out of the test or other prenatal screenings, the Review-Journal reports. The bill also would require that pregnant women be given a pamphlet with information about the test and their right to refuse it.
The Senate earlier this month voted 19-0 to approve the measure. The bill is under consideration by the Assembly's Health and Human Services Committee. Mary Guinan, dean of the School of Public Health at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, said at a committee hearing on Wednesday that HIV "can be treated, adding that it is "critical" for pregnant women to know their HIV status. Nevada Trial Lawyers Association lobbyist Graham Galloway said he opposes a clause in the bill that frees doctors from liability or punishment if they do not inform a pregnant woman about the availability of HIV testing. "We oppose any legislation that doesn't hold people accountable," he said, adding that it "essentially says you can ignore the requirements of the statute." Health and Human Services Chair Sheila Leslie (D) said that she "tend[s] to agree with" Galloway, adding that the clause indicates the Legislature is saying, "Here is the bill, and by the way, if you don't follow it, it is OK with us." Leslie said she would consider amendments at a future committee meeting (Vogel, Las Vegas Review-Journal, 4/26).