NEWBORN HIV TESTS: Hosp. Assoc. Sues CT Over Mandate
The Connecticut Hospital Association (CHA) has filed a lawsuit in federal court in an attempt to overturn a new state law that requires mandatory HIV testing for infants born in Connecticut, AP/Newsday reports. The law, which took effect Oct. 1, requires pregnant women to be tested for the virus upon arriving at the hospital to give birth, unless they object in writing. The CHA alleges that forcing mothers and their infants to be tested for the virus against their will is an unreasonable search that violates U.S. and Connecticut constitutional rights, and also argues that mandatory testing "will interfere with the patient-provider relationship." The Connecticut Civil Liberties Union will lend support to the CHA, which tried unsuccessfully in late September to secure a temporary restraining order that would have prevented the law from going into effect (10/19). Advocates for mandatory testing argue that the tests will ensure proper prenatal care for mothers and prevent HIV transmittal to newborns. A national study published last summer in the Journal of the American Medical Association, for example, reports a dramatic decline in mother-to-newborn transmission of HIV, with the number of infected infants falling from 907 in 1992, down to 297 in 1997 -- a trend that testing advocates say would continue if tests are made a routine part of prenatal care (Julien, Hartford Courant, 10/19).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.