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HIV Testing Basics (cont.)

Why is it recommended for pregnant women to be tested for HIV?

HIV testing during pregnancy is important because antiviral therapy can improve the mother's health and greatly lower the chance that an HIV-infected pregnant woman will pass HIV to her infant before, during, or after birth. The treatment is most effective for babies when started as early as possible during pregnancy. However, there are still great health benefits to beginning treatment even during labor or shortly after the baby is born.

CDC recommends HIV screening for all pregnant women because risk-based testing (when the health care provider offers an HIV test based on the provider's assessment of the pregnant woman's risk) misses many women who are infected with HIV. CDC does recommend providing information on HIV (either orally or by pamphlet) and, for women with risk factors, referrals to prevention counseling.

HIV testing provides an opportunity for infected women to find out that they are infected and to gain access to medical treatment that may help improve their own health. It also allows them to make informed choices that can prevent transmission to their infant. For some uninfected women with risks for HIV, the prenatal care period could be an ideal opportunity for HIV prevention and subsequent behavior change to reduce risk for acquiring HIV infection.


Centers for Disease Control

Last Editorial Review: 4/15/2010 12:28:36 PM

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