While we were on vacation for a week we got a huge stack of mail, most of it junk. Amongst it all was a letter to me from the state informing me of the test results that I already discussed here. In California, the Alfa-Fetoprotein (AFP) test is covered by the state. I was informed of this in the letter and told that further testing and genetic counseling would also be covered by the state because of my positive test results.
Like I’m sure anyone in my position, my husband and I have been doing TONS of research on the test, the possible meaning of the results, and Downs Syndrome since finding out. Oddly enough, the more research I do, the better I feel.
For example, in an initial inquiry my husband found that the official false positive rate for the test is five percent. This percentage just didn’t sit right with me, however, when it seemed that almost EVERYONE I knew either knew someone or themselves had gotten a false positive from this test. Every positive test my midwife has seen has turned out negative. There was just no way that a mere five percent could be accurate for the false positive rate. So, I started looking into it and I found that the actual number should be much, much higher. Basically, they throw out any “false positive” if the person has diabetes, hyperemesis gravidarum (like me!), miscalculations of cycle dates (like me!) and a whole host of other conditions and circumstances. If those cases were included and not thrown out, some estimates suggest that the false positive rate for the AFP test could be as high as 80 percent!
The more research I do, the more I am convinced that this test is completely bogus! Yet our state continues to pay for it (and most OBs make you feel pretty guilty if you refuse the test) and, as I found in my letter, further testing and genetic counseling upon a positive test result. Why put people through this test and all the worry associated with the results when those results are horribly inaccurate? It seems uncessary. Furthermore, why should the state pick up the bill for the test and more? This just seems ridiculous to me when we are in such a budget crisis that we are having to lay off law enforcement, teachers and other important state employees, my sister and friends amongst them. And why should my tax dollars go to paying for some “genetic counselor” to tell me or other people that a life with Downs Syndrome is horrible and no life at all and it would just be better for everyone involved if I had an abortion?
So yeah, that letter just made me plain pissed off. End of rant.