Key Messages for Pregnant Women About HIV

HIV Testing Is Recommended For All Pregnant Women

  • HIV is the virus that causes AIDS. HIV is passed from one person to another during unprotected sex (vaginal, anal or oral sex without a condom) with someone who has HIV. HIV is also passed by shooting drugs using the works of a person who has HIV. A woman with HIV can pass the virus to her baby during pregnancy or birth or through breastfeeding.
  • If a woman is pregnant and has HIV, there are treatments that may help her keep up her health and reduce the chances of passing HIV to her baby. If a pregnant woman with HIV does not get any treatment, the chance of her passing HIV to her baby is about one in four. If she gets treatment, the chance of her passing HIV to her baby is about one in twelve.
  • By law, all babies in New York State are tested for HIV soon after they are born. But it is much better for a woman to know her HIV status as early in pregnancy as possible so she can make important decisions about health care and breastfeeding. To further protect herself and her baby , retesting for HIV later in the pregnancy is often recommended to the pregnant woman.

The HIV Test Is Safe And Can Be Done Along With Other Prenatal Blood Tests

  • Along with being tested, women and their partners can learn about ways to protect themselves from HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
  • If a woman's test shows she has HIV, her partner and children should be tested for HIV. Health care and other needed services are available for the whole family if any member has HIV.
  • HIV testing is confidential. A doctor can share HIV test results with others who provide health care for a woman and her baby. The names of people who have HIV and other STDs, like syphilis and gonorrhea, will be confidentially sent to the State Health Department. This helps the State Health Department plan services for people living with HIV and assist in informing partners.
  • Help is available for women with HIV to let sex or needle-sharing partners learn that they should get tested for HIV. Counselors from Health Department programs called PNAP and CNAP can help notify partners without ever telling them the woman's name.
  • Many resources are available in New York to help women with HIV meet their medical, social and legal needs.

Your HIV test is voluntary. Your doctor will ask you to sign a consent form for HIV testing, which you should read carefully. Your doctor will also answer any questions you may have about HIV testing an may also recommend that you have another HIV test later in your pregnancy.