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Pregnant women to be offered free HIV screening

26 June 2008

Pregnant women to be offered free HIV screening

From July 1 pregnant women in Hawke’s Bay will be offered free Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) screening to reduce the risk of the infection being passed to their baby.

Hawke’s Bay District Health Board Antenatal HIV Screening Programme Coordinator, Diona Turner, said the test would be included as part of the standard first antenatal blood screening test.

As with any test the woman would be required to give her informed consent, she said.

Mrs Turner said many adults infected with HIV were asymptomatic and may be unaware they were infected. Although HIV rates in Hawke’s Bay were low, if a women was diagnosed the risk of transmitting the infection to their babies could be reduced from 20 percent to less than one percent, she said.

About 2000 babies are born in Hawke’s Bay every year and most pregnant mothers were expected to take up the universal offer of a free HIV screen, Mrs Turner said.

Hawke’s Bay midwives, GPs, and Obstetric specialists, were involved in a training and education programme prior to the implementation of the screening. Hawke’s Bay is one of a number of District Health Boards who have introduced the screening into antenatal care.

Since 2000, 14 children in New Zealand had contracted HIV because it was undetected during pregnancy. For further information check out www.nsu.govt.nz click on antenatal HIV screening

ENDS

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