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New law promotes HIV/AIDS tests for expectant mothers
A new law signed last week by Gov. Sonny Perdue could help reduce the risk of HIV transmission from mothers to their children.
House Bill 429, the Georgia HIV Pregnancy Screening Act of 2007, requires doctors to offer HIV tests to expectant mothers, and refer those infected with the disease to counseling and medical services.
The testing is optional, but mothers who choose not to be tested will have their refusals documented in their medical records.
The U.S. Public Health Service recommends all pregnant women be tested for HIV as soon as possible during pregnancy. Early detection can help mothers who test positive work with their physician to decide on the best treatment for themselves and their babies to prevent mother-to-child-transmission.
Prior to the regular use of antiviral treatments, almost 25 percent of children born to HIV-infected mothers developed the disease and died by 24 months of age. Recent studies have shown that mothers with HIV or AIDS who get good prenatal care and regularly take antiviral drugs during their pregnancy, however, now have less than a 5 percent chance of passing HIV to their babies.
The new Georgia requirement takes affect July 1.
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