Hiv Testing in Newborns Essay

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This paper presents an ethical analysis of the mandatory newborn HIV testing law enacted in New York State. The law was passed as an effort to decrease maternal transmission of HIV, by treating infants born to HIV positive mothers immediately after birth with AZT. Newborn testing was promoted by the legislative and medical community following the overwhelmingly positive response from HIV infected pregnant women who were given AZT in the ACTG 076 clinical trials. Pregnant mothers who were given AZT had a markedly lower transmission rate than mothers who had not received it. This paper examines this newborn testing policy from a Utilitarian perspective to ascertain if the goals of the policy are feasible. The potential advantages, as…show more content…
The increased awareness of successful treatment modalities for potentially seropositive infants heightened the push for legislation mandating HIV testing of newborns (Garrett, 1995) (Nicholson, 2002). Blinded studies, although useful for tracking the number of seropositive infants in the state, deprived HIV positive mothers and their at-risk infants of any opportunity for follow-up care or interventions (Berger, Rosner, and Farnsworth 1996). The results of the anonymous newborn screenings, coupled with the promising treatment research from ACTG 076, was the impetus for the State of New York to enact policy mandating the testing of all newborns for the human deficiency virus (Cameron, 2002).

Agents Affected by Mandatory HIV Testing

Every mother who delivers a baby in the state of New York is affected by this policy. Because every infant is tested at birth, every mother will be aware of her own HIV status by default, even if she had refused testing during her pregnancy. Critics of the policy cite these losses of autonomy and privacy as the most serious drawbacks of the new law
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