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Authors

Kevin J. Curnin

Abstract

Proposed New York Assembly Bill No. 6747-B5 attempts to answer one of the most urgent problems of the current HIV/AIDS epidemic: pediatric AIDS. Part I of this Note discusses the bill, which would respond to pediatric AIDS by mandating HIV testing for all babies born in the state and requiring disclosure to all mothers whose babies test positive. Part II of this paper briefly discusses the medical background of pediatric AIDS and HIV infection, particularly the epidemiology of HIV/AIDS in women and children. Part III describes New York’s current HIV screening program and compares it to the changes proposed under Bill No. 6747-B. Part IV examines privacy issues, specifically infringement of the discrete rights of confidentiality and autonomy, and concludes that both are violated by the bill. Part V, focusing on gender and pregnancy discrimination, presents an equal protection argument likely to be raised against the proposal, and concludes that the bill violates the Equal Protection Clause as well. An alternative proposal-combining fully funded counseling and routinely recommended voluntary testing tied directly to family-oriented, follow-up care-is suggested in Part VI. In conclusion, this Note urges the New York State Assembly to reject Bill No. 6747-B, in light of its substantial and unconstitutional infringement of the rights of childbearing women and its inability to justify that infringement on medical or public policy grounds.

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