HIV Testing (cont.)
Pregnancy and HIV
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that pregnant women and newborns at high risk for HIV be tested.
- Without medical treatment, a mother infected with HIV has about a 25% chance of having a baby born with HIV.
- Medical treatment with antiretroviral medication during pregnancy and labor has been shown to dramatically reduce the risk of transmission of HIV.
- The standard ELISA or Western blot antibody test may not be appropriate for a pregnant woman who has had recent exposure to HIV.
- If she is trying to decide whether to continue or terminate her pregnancy, she cannot afford the
three- to six-month waiting period the antibody test requires.
- In such cases, the viral load test is usually ordered by a physician to help the woman make more informed decisions, including whether to start prenatal antiretroviral therapy to reduce mother-to-child HIV transmission.
- For more information on HIV/AIDS and HIV testing, contact the Centers for Disease Control National AIDS Hotline at 800-342-AIDS (800-342-2437).
Leon Salem, MD, MS, FACEP
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