HIV testing in pregnancy

You will be offered a free HIV blood test when you have your first blood test during pregnancy. HIV screening can also be done at any time during your pregnancy.

HIV is a virus that can make you and your baby sick. It is the virus that can cause AIDS.

Most women do not have HIV but if you do, treatment can help to keep you healthy and well and reduce the chance of HIV passing to your baby during pregnancy, birth or breastfeeding.

The test is recommended by the Ministry of Health.

You have the right to choose not to have the test. Talk to your midwife or doctor if you have any concerns or do not understand the information that is given to you. Your midwife or doctor can help you with your decision.

Getting your results

You should receive your results within 2 weeks.

If the test is positive, a second blood test will be done to find out for sure if you have HIV. It may take up to 2 weeks for those results to come back to you.

Waiting for the result of the second test can be an anxious time. You may find it helpful to talk to your midwife, doctor, or another health professional.

If you are found to have HIV, you will receive professional advice, help and support to help you look after your health, and the health of your baby.

There is a very small possibility that an HIV test result may come back positive, even though further tests show you do not have HIV. This is because testing is very sensitive and can lead to positive results when you don't have HIV.

There is also a very small possibility that an HIV test may be negative, even though further tests show that you have HIV. This is usually because you have been very recently infected with HIV, and the infection has not yet shown up in a blood test. If you think you are at risk of HIV at any time in your pregnancy, you can ask for another test.

What happens to your results

All your pregnancy blood test results including HIV will be sent in confidence to your doctor or midwife.

The results will be included in your maternity notes.

These may be electronic and can be shared with other health professionals involved in your care. Your doctor, nurse or midwife can give you more information.

Treatment

There is no cure for HIV right now but careful management and long-term treatment can help you stay well and prevent the virus passing to your baby.

If you have HIV, the treatment and support you are offered may include:

  • medicines during pregnancy and birth to help you stay healthy for longer, and to prevent you from passing the virus on to your baby
  • advice about how to deliver your baby safely
  • medicines for your baby for a few weeks after birth
  • advice about the safest ways to feed your baby.

Early treatment and support for is important because it helps you and your baby to remain well.

To find out more about living with HIV, go to HIV/AIDS.

Monitoring HIV testing

To make sure the testing programme is effective, all first pregnancy blood screening results are collected for monitoring. Your confidentiality is carefully protected.

If you choose not to have the HIV test, you will be asked if the DHB can be informed of your choice.

Collecting information about all women who have pregnancy blood screening enables us to identify how many women have chosen to have or not to have screening and tells us a little about them (eg, where they come from and which culture they identify with). This information can help us to make sure that all women are getting an equal opportunity to have screening but does not identify individuals.

Details that could be used to identify you will not be used by the national programme unless you specifically consent to this occurring.

You can ask that your information is not shared with the programme.


Related websites

HIV Testing in Pregnancy – HealthEd
All pregnant women are offered an antenatal screening test for HIV/AIDS as part of their routine care. This pamphlet explains the test. Also available in simplified Chinese, traditional Chinese, Hindi, Korean, Māori, Swahili, Sāmoan and Tongan.

New Zealand AIDS Foundation
The NZ AIDS Foundation focus on preventing the transmission of HIV and providing support for people living with HIV.

Just the Facts
Information on sexual health and sexually transmitted infections, including HIV.

Positive Women
Positive Women provide a support network for women and families living with HIV or AIDS.

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