Advocate (06/25/96) No. 710, P. 33
When Congress reauthorized the Ryan White CARE Act in May, it
included a controversial provision to require HIV testing of
newborns by the year 2000 under certain conditions. AIDS
activists hope the conditions will keep the mandate from being
implemented but say they fear that the provision's passage
will lead to more mandatory testing. R. Scott Hitt, chairman
of President Clinton's Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS, says that
testing of newborns could lead to more widespread testing, but
that the reason for mandating testing is well-intentioned.
The argument behind mandatory testing for infants is based on
studies showing that AZT treatment can reverse a newborn's HIV
status. Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-N.Y.), a supporter of mandatory
testing for newborns, says that widespread mandatory testing
will not necessarily result from the measure. However, Rep.
Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), says large-scale testing is his goal.
Before mandatory testing of infants is implemented, the
government will spend $10 million helping states encourage
pregnant women to be tested voluntarily while tracking the
rate of perinatal transmission by state. Depending on their
success at reducing transmission by the turn of the century,
the states might then have to implement mandatory newborn