Hawaii’s legislature took a first step in passing a proposed law that would require the State Department of Health to communicate the dangers of cytomegalovirus (“CMV”) infection to pregnant women and women who may become pregnant. The Bill is awaiting Hawaii State Senate approval.

If successful, Hawaii would follow Utah in mandating CMV education; similar legislation is being considered in a number of other states including Connecticut, Illinois, Tennessee, and Texas.

Krystyn Aguinaldo-Iokia, a Maui-born mother, played a key role in drafting House Bill 782, also known as “Kulia’s Bill”. Ms. Aguinaldo-Iokia’s daughter, Kulia, was born congenitally infected with CMV. Now 18 months old, Kulia has severe brain damage, suffers from frequent seizures, and requires around the clock care. Ms. Aguinaldo-Iokia was first made aware of CMV during her pregnancy; had she taken preventative measures, such as more frequent hand washing, she believe she could have reduced her infection risk.Hawaii State Capitol BuildingHawaii’s proposed education program would communicate the incidence of CMV, transmission routes, methods of diagnosing congenital CMV, and available preventative strategies. The Hawaii Department of Health would provide this information to pregnant women and women considering pregnancy via their caregivers, specifically:

  • Health care providers offering care to pregnant women and infants
  • Certain hospitals
  • Registered family child care homes
  • Licensed group child care centers
  • Religious organizations offering children's programs as a part of worship services

House Bill 782 would also call for the Hawaii Department of Health to convene a working group that will first develop, implement, and fund the CMV public education program. This working group would submit a report to the Hawaii legislature in 2016.

While an earlier version of House Bill 782 would have required CMV testing in newborns with hearing impairment, similar to the approved Utah legislation, that portion was struck down following budget concerns. Because CMV viral load is low in blood, testing for CMV typically requires a separate saliva or urine-based assay which may create additional care complexity and cost.Note: This post was updated on March 10th, 2015 with additional details on the status of the proposed legislation.