Kansas House Committee Approves Bill That Would Require HIV Testing Among Pregnant Women
The Kansas House Committee on Health and Human Services last week approved a bill (S.B. 147) that would require doctors to test pregnant women and some infants for HIV, the Kansas Health Institute News reports. Committee chair Rep. Brenda Landwehr (R) said that there were "some questions" about the bill "raised early on, but they've been answered." Landwehr previously asked for clarification about whether the bill could lead to HIV-positive infants being denied health insurance because of a "pre-existing condition." Supporters of the bill, including the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, told committee members that the benefits of preventing mother-to-child HIV transmission outweighed concerns about health insurance. The bill passed in the Senate earlier this month and now goes to the full House for consideration (Ranney, Kansas Health Institute News, 3/19).
According to the Kansas Health Institute News, the bill would require that doctors test women in the first trimester of pregnancy for HIV, with those testing negative but at a high-risk for HIV being tested again in the third trimester. The bill also would allow pregnant women to opt out of testing. In addition, infants born to women who have not been tested or who are unaware of their HIV status would be tested under the bill. According to KDHE data, about 4,400 pregnant women in the state do not receive HIV tests each year. William Lyons, director of the HIV/AIDS program within KDHE's Division of Disease Control and Prevention, told the committee that 89% of pregnant women are being tested for HIV in Kansas, meaning that 11% are not. He noted that the cost of a course of medication to prevent MTCT costs "about $17," while the cost of caring for an HIV-positive child often exceeds $250,000 (Ranney, Kansas Health Institute News, 3/18).