Document Type

Response or Comment

Publication Date



Last year, Congress passed the Ryan White Care Act Amendments of 1996. The amendments authorize ten million dollars for each fiscal year from 1996 through 2000 for counseling pregnant women on HIV disease, for "outreach efforts to pregnant women at high risk of HN who are not currently receiving prenatal care," and for voluntary testing for pregnant women. The amendments compromise a central question: whether prenatal and neonatal AIDS testing should be compelled. The compromise is complex. The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is instructed to establish a system for states to use to discover and report the number of cases in which infants have acquired AIDS in utero. The secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) is to use those reports to decide whether the following practices have become routine: to provide HN testing for infants whose mothers have not been prenatally tested; to disclose the results of such tests to the mother and to others who have or are likely to have legal responsibility for the child; to disclose the results of prenatal tests for HIV disease promptly to the pregnant woman; to provide counseling along with test results; and finally for states to prohibit health insurers from canceling insurance because someone has HIV disease or has been tested for it.


Reprinted with the permission of the Hastings Center Report and Wiley-Blackwell.