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HIV Testing (cont.)

CDC Recommends HIV Testing for Pregnant Women

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).

For More Information on Free HIV Testing

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National HIV Testing Resources, Comprehensive Guide to HIV Testing

Medically reviewed by Robert Cox, MD; American Board of Internal Medicine with subspecialty in Infectious Disease


Barreiro, Pablo, Jorge del Romero, Manuel Leal, et al. "Natural Pregnancies in HIV Serodiscordant Couples Receiving Antiretroviral Therapy." Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes 43.3 Nov. 1, 2006: 324-326.

Delany, S., P. Mayaud, T. Clayton, et al. "Impact of HSV-2 suppressive therapy on genital and plasma HIV-1 RNA in HIV-1 and HSV-2 seropositive women not taking ART; a randomized, placebo-controlled trial in Johannesburg, South Africa." Presented at : The 14th Conferences of Retroviruses and Opportunistic infections. February 25-28, 2007; Los Angeles, Calif. Abstract 154LB.

Gorbach, P.M., R.E. Weiss, R. Jeffries, M. Javanbakht, L.N. Drumright, E.S. Daar, and S.J. Little. "Behaviors of recently HIV-infected men who have sex with men in the year postdiagnosis: effects of drug use and partner types." J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr. 56.2 Feb. 2011: 176-182.

Hall, H.I., S. Ruiguang, P. Rhodes, et al. "Estimation of HIV incidence in the United States." JAMA 300 (2008): 520-529.

Lansky, Amy, John T. Brooks, Elizabeth DiNenno, James Heffelfinger, H. Irene Hall, Jonathan Mermin. "Epidemiology of HIV in the United States." JAIDS Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes 55 Dec. 15, 2010: S64-S68.

Rohr, B. "Dramatic drop in HIV infections halts circumcision trials." BMJ 334.11 (2007).

Sterne, J.A., M. May, D. Costagliola, F. de Wolf, A.N. Philips, and R. Harris, et al. "Timing of initiation of antiretroviral therapy in AIDS-free HIV-1 infected patients: a collaborative analysis of 18 HIV cohort studies." Lancet 373 (2009): 1352–1363.

Last Editorial Review: 12/23/2014

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