Voluntary screening identifies 290 previously unknown HIV cases in women over four year period

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A new report published today (Friday) by the Health Protection Surveillance Centre, shows that voluntary antenatal HIV testing in Ireland identified 290 previously unknown cases of HIV in pregnant women, in the four years from 2002 to 2005.

Welcoming the findings, HPSC specialist in Public Health, Dr Aidan O’Hora, said that early detection of HIV in pregnant women can dramatically reduce or prevent transmission from mother to child.

"Studies report that the combined effects of interventions can reduce transmission from 15 - 35% to 2% or less and because measures to prevent mother to child transmission can only be offered if infection is diagnosed before childbirth, early detection is vital.

"HIV prevalence among women who availed of antenatal screening ranged from 0.25% and 0.31% between 2002 and 2005, which is roughly in line with the European average. The number of cases newly diagnosed through antenatal screening decreased from 113 in 2002 to 94 in 2003, 40 in 2004 and 43 in 2005, which mirrors the trend seen in the national HIV case based reporting system.

"The objectives of HIV testing during pregnancy are to identify women who are HIV positive so that they can avail of appropriate treatment and care, to decrease the incidence of mother to child transmission and to prevent the transmission of HIV to sexual partners of pregnant women," he said.
 
The full report is available at http://www.hpsc.ie/hpsc/A-Z/HepatitisHIVAIDSandSTIs/HIVandAIDS/AntenatalHIVTesting/Report/