HIV testing of all pregnant women recommended

In an update of its 1996 guidelines for HIV screening, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force is now recommending that all pregnant women be tested for the virus.

They say in that way, HIV-infected pregnant women can start HAART treatment and reduce the risk of transmission of infection to their infants. They can also be advised to avoid breastfeeding, which is known to increase the risk for transmission.

According to the report the screening of adolescents and adults with one or more individual risk factors, continues to be recommended.

Those risk factors include;

  • men who have had sex with men after 1975,

  • anyone having unprotected sex with multiple sex partners,

  • past or present injection drug users,

  • men and women who exchange sex for money or drugs or have sex partners who do,

  • individuals whose past or present sex partners were HIV infected,

  • bisexual, or injection drug users,

  • persons being treated for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), and persons with a history of blood transfusion between 1978 and 1985.

At present the Task Force does not recommend routinely screening adolescents or adults with no risk factors.

They do however advise testing persons with no known risk factors but who are seen in high-risk or high-prevalence clinical settings, such as STD clinics, correctional facilities, homeless shelters, TB clinics and clinics with a high prevalence of STDs and also those serving men who have sex with men.

The report is published in the Annals of Internal Medicine July 5, 2005.

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