Testing of Specific Population Groups:
Testing of Pregnant Women and Newborns

Q. How many children are born to HIV positive women? Are the numbers changing?

A. Between 1988 and 1993, an estimated 6000-7000 children were born each year to HIV-infected women, but not every baby born to an infected mother was also infected. Because infants are born with most of their mother's antibodies, a newborn will test positive if his/ her mother is infected with HIV-1. Most infants however, will clear the mother's antibodies from his/her system within 12-18 months. In fact, without preventive treatment, the mother-to-child transmission rate is 15-30%. In 1994, clinical trials using AZT for reducing perinatal HIV transmission indicated a two-thirds decrease in such transmission rates. (17)

Q. Are babies tested for HIV in hospitals without the parents' consent? Are the mothers told the results?

A. New York State is currently the only state to legalize mandatory testing of newborns and the mandatory disclosure of test results to the mother. (12)

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