|Reports & Publications - Newsletters
Monthly Board Report - November 2000
Physicians encouraged to test all pregnant patients for HIV
submitted by Louise Mes, Public Health Nurse
There is a concern that a substantial number of HIV infected pregnant women in Ontario may remain undiagnosed.
The HIV study among pregnant women led by Dr. Robert Remis, University of Toronto indicated that only 49% of pregnant women in Ontario have had a prenatal test either as part of routine prenatal screening or through the current HIV testing program. The Leeds, Grenville & Lanark rating for the period covering October 3 to December 3, 1999 is 57%. The data also indicate that the rate of HIV positive results among those tested is statistically lower than would be expected for all pregnant women. A possible explanation is that HIV prevalence is much higher in women not accessing HIV testing.
The Ministry of Health Prenatal HIV Testing Program recommends that all pregnant women and women contemplating becoming pregnant are offered HIV testing. Pregnant women need to understand the benefits and risks of HIV antibody testing both for themselves and for their unborn child. They can only do this with increased knowledge and open dialogue with their health care provider. The importance of pre and post HIV test counselling cannot be over emphasized.
As a result of this study and the Ministry recommendations our Health Unit has encouraged all physicians to counsel and test all their pregnant patients for HIV.