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HIV testing during pregnancy

HIV is a virus that can be passed from mother-to-child during pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding if it’s not treated.

Testing for HIV during pregnancy is important to keep yourself and your baby healthy.

If you test positive for HIV before or during pregnancy, you can take HIV treatment to reduce the risk of your baby getting HIV to almost zero.

Why should I test for HIV during pregnancy?

Lots of women who test positive for HIV when they are pregnant don’t know they have it. They might have no symptoms or never tested before.

It’s important to test for HIV to see if you have it, so that you can take steps to:

  • keep yourself healthy
  • prevent HIV passing to your child.

Taking antiretroviral treatment (ART) stops this from happening. It allows mothers to have safe and healthy pregnancies and give birth to healthy HIV-negative children.

Should I test for HIV before getting pregnant?

Yes, so that you know if you have HIV before having unprotected sex with your partner to conceive. If you do have HIV, you can take steps to have a baby without passing HIV to your partner.

Contraception options for people with HIV

Should I test for HIV when I am pregnant?

Yes, it is recommended that you test for HIV when you are pregnant, even if you tested for HIV before getting pregnant. This is to make sure that you didn’t get HIV since your last test. Your healthcare professional will likely recommend that you test for HIV three times when you are pregnant.

When should I test for HIV during my pregnancy?

It is recommended that you test for HIV:

  1. at your first antenatal appointment
  2. during your third trimester
  3. after delivery of your baby (in some places).

The earlier you test for HIV during pregnancy, the sooner you can take treatment for your own health and to prevent passing HIV to your baby. But, it’s never too late to test – always ask your healthcare provider if you want an HIV test when you are pregnant.

What if I test positive for HIV when I’m pregnant?

If you test HIV-positive, you can still give birth to HIV-negative babies! You can take HIV treatment during pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding to prevent passing HIV on to your baby. After birth, your baby will need to take HIV treatment for 4–6 weeks. This doesn’t mean they have HIV – it helps prevent an HIV infection.

HIV, pregnancy and childbirth

Are there any risks from testing for HIV during pregnancy?

No, there are no risks. HIV testing involves a small blood test, which will not harm you or your baby.

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Is HIV testing during pregnancy mandatory?

No, HIV testing should never be mandatory. But it is highly recommended. If you choose not to test and you do have HIV, your baby will be at risk of getting HIV too and may become very sick. Therefore, testing is recommended – so you can keep yourself and your baby healthy.

Should my partner test for HIV too?

Yes, your partner should also test for HIV, when you do. It is possible for couples who have unprotected sex to have different HIV statuses, so make sure you both test for HIV so that you can both stay healthy.

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  • Last updated: 11 December 2023
  • Last full review: 01 March 2022
  • Next full review: 01 March 2025
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