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March 27, 1991

HIV Testing of Pregnant Women and Newborns

Author Affiliations

University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio

University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio

JAMA. 1991;265(12):1525. doi:10.1001/jama.1991.03460120039016

To the Editor.—  The policy proposal to inform all pregnant women about HIV and offer testing on a voluntary basis1 is a continuation of the thinking that has resulted in policies detrimental to the well-being of both HIV-infected and uninfected people.There is, of course, a need for reasonable confidentiality and for protection from discrimination; however, to have a national or international policy that enables people at risk of being infected with HIV voluntarily to choose not to know whether they carry HIV, a fatal, sexually transmitted disease, is a perversion of human rights and a formula for HIV disaster. It is no secret to clinicians familiar with the care of patients with sexually transmitted diseases, including those with HIV disease, that many choose not to know the HIV truth and some will not tell their sexual partners.My questions to the Working Group on HIV Testing are these: