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HIV maternal screening starts this month

9 March 2006

HIV maternal screening starts this month

Health Minister Pete Hodgson said the first District Health Board will start routinely offering HIV screening for pregnant women for this month.

Waikato DHB will be the first to begin rolling out the universal programme beginning from 20 March.

"The start marks a tremendous effort by everyone involved to ensure the first of the 21 DHBs is screening-capable and can offer a high quality service to the women of Waikato. The scope of work involved ranges from training midwives and GPs through to getting information resources developed for mothers and their families," Pete Hodgson said.

"Within the next three years all 21 DHBs will have completed the necessary work to enable them to offer a high quality screening service,"

"If detected early an HIV pregnancy may result in a healthy HIV-free child. Between 8 and 18 women per year may be found to be HIV positive." Pete Hodgson said.

The HIV screening will be incorporated into existing tests for pregnant women at between 8 and 14 weeks, which include:
Full blood count, Rhesus factor, Rubella, Syphilis and Hepatitis B. HIV is currently uncommon amongst pregnant women in New Zealand, however it is increasing so it recommended the test be offered universally. Currently any woman who believes she is at risk can have the test.

ENDS

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