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