Blagojevich Sign Perinatal HIV Prevention Act

Mon. August 25, 2003 12:00 AM

Chicago, IL - Governor Rod Blagojevich has signed into law legislation to improve efforts to prevent mother-to-child HIV transmission.

"In signing this bill, Governor Blagojevich has taken a big step towards ending the AIDS epidemic among children," said Mark Ishaug, AFC executive director. "Because of this bill, thousands of pregnant women will receive the HIV counseling and testing they need to protect themselves and their children from HIV infection."

The Perinatal HIV Prevention Act requires prenatal healthcare providers in Illinois to ensure that pregnant women under their care are provided with HIV counseling and offered HIV testing. The law also mandates routine HIV testing of newborns whose mothers' HIV status is unknown at the time of delivery. Women who prefer not to have their children tested may opt out with a written refusal.

Years of research have shown that when appropriately counseled, up to 95% of pregnant women will consent to HIV testing during prenatal care, and that HIV-positive pregnant women who elect early prenatal medical interventions reduce the chances of delivering a child with HIV to less than 2%. Yet, before the bill became law, healthcare providers were not required to counsel women on the importance of HIV testing during pregnancy.

AIDS advocates applaud the new law because it achieves the dual goals of high HIV testing rates and addressing the health needs of pregnant women by ensuring that women receive HIV counseling and give their informed consent before testing. "This law places Illinois on the cutting edge of preventing HIV in infants," said AFC associate director David Munar. "The law works to provide potentially life-saving medical interventions when needed and, at the same time, to empower women with information necessary to better their lives and the lives of their families."

Both chambers of the legislature unanimously passed the Perinatal HIV Prevention Act, which was championed by State Senators Barack Obama (D-Chicago) and John Cullerton (D-Chicago) and by State Representatives Willie Delgado (D-Chicago), Larry McKeon (D-Chicago), and Sara Feigenholtz (D-Chicago). Fourteen additional legislators co-sponsored the bill.

The AIDS Foundation of Chicago is grateful to the many experts who made this legislation possible, including Children's Memorial Hospital, Dr. Pat Garcia, the Illinois State Medical Society, the Illinois Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Pediatric AIDS Chicago Prevention Initiative, and the AIDS Legal Council of Chicago.

For more information, contact Brent Adams at 312-922-2322 or at