HIV: Important Information from the New York State Department of Health*
New York State recommends all pregnant women get tested for HIV. Those who decline this test during their pregnancy will again be counseled to have HIV testing in labor. If the test is done while in labor, a “rapid test” is done and there is the risk of false positives. These false positive results can delay the discharge of your baby from the hospital as anti-viral drugs may need to be administered to the baby. If a mother chooses to decline HIV testing altogether, NY State mandates that the infant be tested with the HIV “rapid test.” Once again, there is a risk of false positives with this test, again delaying discharge of the baby and possible administration of anti-viral drugs. Therefore, testing during your pregnancy is highly recommended and much less stressful.
Soon after your baby is born, your baby will be tested for HIV-the virus that causes AIDS.
WHY IS THIS TEST IMPORTANT?
Because many doctors can now treat HIV, and keep a baby with HIV healthy longer New York State requires that all newborn babies be tested for HIV and many other disorders.
WHEN WILL I GET MY BABY'S TEST RESULTS?
At your baby's first visit with the doctor, ask for the baby's test results for HIV and other disorders. Then you will know if your baby needs special medical care.
IF MY BABY'S TEST SHOWS HIV, DOES THAT MEAN MY BABY IS INFECTED?
Maybe. Maybe not. To be sure, more tests will be needed during your baby's first six months of life. Ask your baby's doctor for more information.
HOW COULD MY BABY BE BORN WITH HIV?
There's only one way, and that is if you have HIV. So if the test shows your baby was born with HIV, that means you have HIV.
WOULD IT BE BETTER TO BE TESTED BEFORE I HAVE THE BABY?
YES! If you have HIV, there is a one in four chance that your baby will have it too. That's because the virus can pass from you to your baby during pregnancy or birth.
But if you take special medicine while you are pregnant, your baby's chance of being infected will be much lower. The medicine can prevent the virus from passing from you to your baby. Talk with your doctor about the benefits and possible risks of taking this medication.
You will also know if it is OK to breast-feed your baby. If you have HIV, your breast milk will have the virus and can infect your baby.
If your test result is negative, you can learn how to protect yourself from getting HIV in the future.
WHAT WILL HAPPEN IF I HAVE HIV?
New treatments are available for people with HIV. You can begin treatment right away. You can stay healthy longer. And you can be there for your baby.
HIV TEST RESULTS ARE CONFIDENTIAL
Unless you give your OK, your doctor can share your HIV only with others who provide health care for you or your baby.
TALK TO YOUR DOCTOR
Learn the facts about HIV and pregnancy to protect your baby. Your doctor can answer your questions so you can decide what is best for you and your baby.
*Reprinted from New York State Department of Health Patient Education Bulletin.