NEWARK – A measure sponsored by Senator Loretta Weinberg to provide pregnant women with early testing for HIV as a way to protect their babies from contracting the virus that causes AIDS was signed into law today by Acting Governor Codey.
“As every mother knows, there is nothing more beautiful than a healthy newborn baby,” said Senator Weinberg, D-Bergen. “This new law will help expectant mothers find out if they have HIV so they take the steps needed to protect the health of their babies.”
Under the bill, S-2704/A-4218, will provide HIV testing for all pregnant women as early in their pregnancy as possible and then again in the third trimester, unless the woman declines to be tested. It also will test newborns whose mothers’ HIV status is either positive or unknown at the time of delivery.
“With early detection, we can dramatically reduce the transmission of HIV from mother to child,” Senator Weinberg said. “At the same time, we can improve the quality of lives for mothers who have contracted HIV.”
According to a federal study last year, transmission rates of HIV from mother to child can be reduced from roughly 25 percent to as low as 1 percent with proper administration of drugs after early detection.
“The key here is the new “opt out” status for the testing which means pregnant women will automatically be tested for HIV unless they specifically decline,” Senator Weinberg said.
“The more education available to expectant mothers, the more they will be able to protect themselves and their newborns,” Senator Weinberg said.
Acting Governor Codey signed Senator Weinberg’s bill at the maternity ward of University Hospital.