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Pregnancy and HIV Testing

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How Can I Know If I Have HIV? continued...

Rapid antibody/antigen test. One antibody/antigen tests delivers results in 20 minutes.

In-home test kits. These kits -- there are two available in the U.S. -- screen blood and saliva for HIV antibodies. You can buy them at your local store. The Home Access HIV-1 Test System requires a small blood sample that is collected at home and sent to a lab. The user, who may remain anonymous, can get results by phone in three business days.  The OraQuick In-Home HIV Test can detect HIV antibodies in saliva, if the antibodies are present (which can take up to 6 months). The user swabs the upper and lower gums of their mouths, places the sample in a developer vial, and can get results in 20-40 minutes. A follow-up test should be done if the result is positive. 

Why Should Pregnant Women Be Tested for HIV?

Doctors recommend all pregnant women get tested for HIV. Medications are available to prevent the spread of the virus to your unborn baby. In addition, steps can be taken during delivery to prevent spreading the infection. Some studies show a woman can further reduce the risk of spreading the virus to her baby by having a cesarean section before her water breaks. Moreover, your health care provider can take steps to help you stay healthy longer.

Is HIV Testing Required?

No. HIV testing is voluntary. Anyone is free to decline testing. Your decision to not get tested, or the test result itself, will not prevent you from getting health care during pregnancy.

Can I Change My Mind About HIV Testing?

Yes. If after giving the blood sample you decide against testing, inform the attending nurse or doctor. Patients who are not hospitalized (outpatients) can withdraw their consent up until they leave the facility. Hospital patients (inpatients) can withdraw their consent up until one hour after the blood sample has been drawn.

What Do the HIV Test Results Mean?

A confirmed, positive test result means you have been infected with HIV. Being infected with HIV does not necessarily mean that you have AIDS. It can take many years for people with HIV to develop AIDS.

A negative test result means that no signs of HIV infection were found in your blood. A negative test does not always mean that you do not have HIV. Signs of HIV may not show up in the blood for several months after infection. For this reason, you should be tested again if you could have been exposed to HIV or are at risk for HIV infection.

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