During your pregnancy, we do many types of tests. Many of these tests require blood. During the first OB visit, we usually draw the most blood. Many of these tests check for infections that can cause problems in pregnancy. One test I’d like to discuss today is the HIV test.
Most women who become pregnant today do not know about a time before HIV. HIV has been in our community for their entire lives. I do remember what life was like when HIV entered our society, and how it changed the way we go about things. There was a time when HIV caused fear and panic for the public. Those who had the disease were subjected to ostracism, violence, homelessness, and unemployment. Because of this discrimination, we now have to get permission to do a HIV test. This is why you have to sign a form for it when you don’t have to sign a form for any of the other infectious disease testing.
Occasionally, I run into some women who chose to NOT have the test. Today, I would like to discuss WHY you should have it done. Yes, Yes,… I know you don’t have any risk factors for contacting the disease. Please consider this; just to know that the HIV test is negative will be one less thing to worry about during pregnancy.
Did you know that 18% of all HIV infected people do not know they are infected? Should a woman who is infected with HIV become pregnant, she can transfer the HIV to the baby. Almost all cases of HIV in young children today are because of perinatal transmission. Today, we give medication during pregnancy that can prevent this transmission. Also, there are other things we can do to prevent transmission of the HIV virus to the baby.
If you still do not want the test done while pregnant, our pediatricians DO want to know your child’s HIV status. This means that if they do not know your status, they will test the baby. The baby will have to have more blood drawn in addition to all the other blood tests done.
If you have questions about HIV testing, please discuss this with your physician. You can also go to the CDC for more information.
Cynthia Wilkes MD
Stafford Womens Health Associates