prenatal visits prior to 34 weeks gestation; or (3) a program of mandatory testing of all newborns whose mothers had not undergone prenatal HIV testing.
Also in June 1996, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver reversed his position on mandatory testing legislation and allowed the bill to pass the legislature. According to one legislative insider, "The Assembly leadership did not want to go into 1996 elections with this as an open issue. In 1994, the U.S. House and Senate went Republican, as did the New York governor. In 1996, the Speaker was very concerned this [opposition to mandatory testing] would lead to a loss of a significant number of Assembly seats, and that would then invigorate the Republicans. We could potentially lose majority control. That got played out on a long list of issues, whether criminal justice, or welfare reform, or mandatory testing." On June 26, 1996, Pataki signed the Baby AIDS bill into law. The new law gave the health commissioner the authority to impose newborn HIV tests. According to Speaker Silver, "We're leaving it to the health professionals to make the determination."
As expected, Health Commissioner Barbara DeBuono issued a call for developing regulations to put the mandatory newborn HIV screening program into place, and on February 1, 1997, the Comprehensive Newborn Testing Program was implemented.
In the wake of the mandatory newborn testing policy which began in 1997, Mayersohn returned to her original proposed partner notification legislation from 1993. According to one observer, "The success of the Baby AIDS program [mandatory newborn testing] was a major arguing point in the efforts to pass partner notification, and the lines of support were parallel." A number of county health officials, the state medical society, and a number of physicians supported the effort; similarly, a number of community groups, civil libertarians, and physicians opposed to mandatory newborn testing also opposed the partner notification legislation. The case of Nushawn Williams, an HIV-positive Brooklyn man who infected a number of underage teenage girls through sexual contacts in rural Chautauqua County in 1997, further fueled public debate and interest in the partner notification legislation. According to public reports about the case, although Williams was aware of his HIV-positive status he did not disclose it to the girls with whom he had intercourse. A number have since tested positive for HIV.
Mayersohn's reintroduced bill requires providers to solicit the names of sexual contacts and injection drug-using contacts from individuals who test positive for HIV. Physicians, laboratories, coroners, and medical examiners are required to report the names of individuals testing positive and their contacts (if known) to the state health commissioner. In turn, the state will then forward the information to the local health commissioner or district health officer. Local health officers are required to trace the sexual and/or drug-sharing contacts of