New Jersey has about 17,600 AIDS cases, according to the Kaiser Foundation. Women represent 32.4 percent of the cases — the third highest rate in the nation. The national average is 23.4 percent.
The state has about 115,000 births per year and had seven infants born with HIV in 2005, according to state health department officials.
Bloomberg also reports:
Health-care providers will test pregnant women for HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, in their first and third trimesters unless they refuse, according to the new law. Newborns whose mother's HIV status is positive or unknown at the time of delivery also will be tested.
The rate of mother-baby HIV transmission has been dramatically reduced due to increased testing and preemptive actions:
The number of children in the U.S. reported with AIDS attributed to HIV transmission during childbirth declined to 48 in 2004 from a peak of 945 in 1992, primarily because of the identification of infected pregnant women and the effectiveness of preventative drugs in reducing mother-to-child transmission, according to the CDC report.
Some questions for consideration:
* Does a woman's right to informational privacy outweigh the state's interest in preventing HIV transmission to newborns?
* Does the incurable nature of HIV lend more weight to the latter?
* Does a woman cede certain personal rights when she decides to carry a pregnancy to term?
* On a finer point - which is more desirable in this circumstance: "opt-in" or "opt-out"?