What’s in a test?

After talks last spring in New Jersey of making HIV testing mandatory for pregnant women, we find that the state has decided to move forward and enforce new legislation.
The law requires health care providers to make the test a part of routine prenatal care, with an “opt out” exception. However, newborns will also be required to be tested if the mother is HIV positive or her HIV status is unknown.
We had some really good discussion here around the issue, where commenter Sassygirl pointed out the ACLU’s position with some background information on mandatory testing for pregnant women and newborns, which explains that the testing of newborns is more or less senseless. It also features an example of a HIV-positive woman (from New Jersey, no less) whose child was taken away from her because she refused to give her newborn AZT treatment and was deemed an “unfit” mother. The baby ended up being HIV negative.
And while having the option to refuse testing is a good thing, studies show that many women who live in states that have mandates didn’t feel comfortable refusing testing, and almost one in five didn’t even know they were even tested for that matter. So how much of “an option” really is it?
It’s a complex issue and obviously prevention should be the priority, but do women’s private medical decisions need to be sacrificed in the process?

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