Bill Seeks to Test Newborns for HIV

January 19, 2006

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A state committee approved a bill Thursday that would require mandatory HIV testing of all newborn babies born in Illinois.

Supporters say children born with HIV can be easily and effectively treated within the first 48 hours after birth.

But some mothers object to having their children tested for HIV.

Tom Hughes with the Illinois Department of Public Health says the state has an ethical and financial obligation to test newborns.

""You're talking 20 to 30 thousand dollars per year to care for an HIV positive infant, and when just a few dollars of AZT can reverse that outcome, we think that's extraordinarily important to do,"" Hughes says.

Hughes says preventing disease now will save the state money in the long run.

Currently Illinois spends $300,000 a month to provide drugs to citizens who are HIV positive. The bill is expected to go before lawmakers this spring.


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