Georgia Gov. Perdue Signs Bill That Would Require Doctors To Offer Pregnant Women HIV Tests
Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue (R) on Thursday signed into law a bill (HB 429) that would require doctors in the state to offer pregnant women HIV tests, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports (Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 5/18). The bill, sponsored by state Rep. Sharon Cooper (R), also would require doctors to refer HIV-positive pregnant women to counseling and treatment services. Women would be able to opt out of the test, but their refusals would be included in their medical records.
Almost one-quarter of pregnant women in Georgia are not tested for HIV because their physicians do not think they are at high risk of transmission, according to Cooper. She added that between 20 and 30 infants in the state are born HIV-positive annually, according to statistics from the Department of Human Resources Division of Public Health. Treatment costs about $600,000 per infant, according to the public health division. Several physician groups -- including the Georgia chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Georgia Obstetrical & Gynecological Society -- have voiced their support for the bill (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 3/21).
Greg Cook -- an Augusta, Ga.-based ob-gyn -- said, "The whole purpose of this [law] is we really want more women to get tested for HIV, and if they're pregnant, not only can we refer the mother to infectious disease and treatment, but it's very important for the baby." He added that cases of mother-to-child HIV transmission can be reduced to 1% to 3% if the virus is detected during pregnancy and treatment is administered (Eckenrode, Morris News Service/Augusta Chronicle, 5/18). The law will take effect on July 1 (Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 5/18).