AIDS Testing For All Pregnant Women
The bill to require mandatory AIDS testing for all pregnant women in the state has several complications. However, if I had to vote it would be for the bill to pass. More and more, children are dying because of the mother’s refusal to be screened for AIDS. This bill has the potential to save many lives.
HIV is a complicated virus. It hides in the system and doesn’t expose itself to do damage until your immune system breaks down. People who test positive can be fooled into thinking that they’re never going to be sick. A woman could have HIV for a substantial amount of time and not realize it. The only way to know for sure is to be tested. This mandate for testing and counseling gives the child a better chance at a normal and healthy life.
AIDS testing could reduce the number of babies born with AIDS. It could also reduce the number of babies born with HIV. Administering certain drugs could lower the risk of the virus being passed to the child. Even if the virus is passed to the child, there are precautions that could be taken to minimize the danger of the child contracting other infections such as PCP, which is a form of pneumonia.
Moreover, pregnant women who receive extensive pre-test counseling would further understand the benefits of AIDS testing. They need to know basic information on this disease before being tested. There could be a routine test commonly given to pregnant women for the disease. The mother would be able to obtain an AIDS test at anonymous or confidential test sites or in a doctor’s office. At an anonymous test site, a woman getting the test remains anonymous, and the test and the results are assigned a number. This way the woman’s test results are never matched to her identity. A file will be kept with the woman’s information and the test results. Furthermore, this will encourage people to get tested. It will also eliminate the fear of discrimination, shame, or other factors that would interfere with someone wanting to be tested.
Additionally, when the prenatal care provider offers a test, they must include a discussion of the purpose of the test, risk and benefits, and the voluntary nature of it. The provider would have to document in the record that the patient’s AIDS information, counseling, and testing were offered. The prenatal care provider may either directly administer the test or may refer the patient to another anonymous or confidential test location if the patient consents to it and wishes to do so. After the prenatal care is given, then there has to be follow-up care.
If the pregnant woman tests positive, the issue of the cost of the medicine could be partially resolved. AIDS medication would be provided to pregnant women below the poverty line, free of cost. Typically, the medicine costs tens of thousands of dollars and is not affordable for people of the middle and lower class. However, with the reduction of taxes on these drugs, they could become less expensive. Another financial consideration would be that of the doctor and being sued by the patient if the testing isn’t mandatory and she isn’t given the option.
If it’s proven that a woman wasn’t offered a test and her child was infected, she could successfully sue. So this bill would also protect the doctors and their rights because the mandatory testing would cover all bases. The passing of this bill would take the decision making out of the hands of the doctor. This would, in turn, alleviate some of the responsibility of making the decision by doctors and parents that aren’t competent to do so. However, there are parents that wouldn’t want this bill mandated for religious reasons.
For example, Jehovah Witnesses are opposed to taking blood tests and administering drugs to pregnant women. People’s religious and philosophical beliefs can interfere, even with a good bill like this, which could protect children who will have to live a short life with HIV and AIDS. The state could have outreach to religious groups to get people to believe that this is in the benefit of their family and their congregation. Although the state respects all religions and their differing ideas and beliefs, the bill’s sole purpose is to protect children from any and all potential health threats. The state should never advocate its responsibilities as it relates to children, no matter what interference may occur by adults. Even with all the other arguments I’ve made, the protection of children is paramount to any civilized society.
In the past decade, the use of mandates by government entities has become a way to appease every special interests group. But, this particular mandate is funded completely and protects a group of people who don’t have high powered lobbyists and media consultants to get what they need. This is just a common sense bill that no caring person could oppose. I don’t need focus groups or polls to support this bill. I just have to look in the eyes of a healthy newborn child knowing that everything possible was done for them to have a normal and healthy life.
There are people that think that mandates which come from the state are overbearing. Sometimes people need an extra push to do the right thing for a segment of the population who do not have a voice. This bill is exactly one of those times when everyone involved needs that push.
In conclusion, if the bill was passed, mandatory AIDS testing for all pregnant women would be very helpful for the welfare of the child. I support this bill because earlier testing could lead to earlier treatment. Also, women would be better informed of their bodies and the AIDS disease. The best part of the bill is that the government is going to pay to have pregnant women tested and counseled.
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