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AHF Says 'Op-Out' Clause is Crucial to New Jersey Law Requiring HIV Testing of Pregnant Women
Date:12/26/2007

Goal: Increase Testing While Preserving Choice

SACRAMENTO, Calif., Dec. 26 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the operator of the largest non-government HIV testing program in California, today offered its qualified support for a new HIV testing protocol signed into law yesterday in New Jersey by Acting Governor Richard J. Codey. The legislation requires the routine testing of pregnant women and some newborns for HIV, a policy that has met with criticism from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and certain women's groups. AHF, which has recently spearheaded and partnered in a groundbreaking HIV testing initiative in California to conduct one million free HIV tests over the next three years with the City of Los Angeles, notes that the most crucial component of the New Jersey legislation is a clause in the bill allowing a woman the choice to opt out of the testing should she so choose.

According to an Associate Press article earlier today, "The bill allows women to opt out of the HIV testing, but critics contend the screening will deprive women of their right to make medical decisions." AP also noted that, "New Jersey has required providers only to offer HIV testing to pregnant women. Under the new law, HIV testing will be part of routine prenatal care for all pregnant women, and doctors will provide pregnant woman with information about HIV and AIDS. It also requires newborns to be tested when the mother has tested positive or her HIV status is unknown."

"AHF supports the widespread and greatly increased availability of HIV testing in the US and overseas; however, we are firmly against mandatory testing for HIV. Our position has been, and remains in support of routine HIV testing with an 'opt out' clause--as is the current testing protocol for pregnant women with regard to rubella, hepatitis C, and certain other communicable diseases--and has now been incorporated into this new law in New Jersey," said
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SOURCE AIDS Healthcare Foundation
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