Antenatal HIV Testing in Ireland

The transmission of HIV from a HIV positive mother to her child during pregnancy, labour, delivery or breastfeeding is called mother-to-child transmission (MTCT), or vertical transmission. Diagnosis of HIV in pregnancy allows for effective interventions to be implemented and has dramatically reduced the risk of HIV transmission from mother-to-child during pregnancy, delivery and in the postnatal period to less than 1% (1, 2).

Objectives of Antenatal HIV testing
The objectives of HIV antenatal screening are to identify women who are HIV positive so they can be offered immediate treatment for their own clinical benefit, to prevent transmission of HIV to their child and to prevent transmission of HIV to their sexual partners.

Introduction of Voluntary Antenatal Testing in Ireland
A national voluntary programme of HIV antenatal screening has been in place in Ireland since 1999. As part of this programme, it is recommended that HIV testing be offered to all women who attend for antenatal services. A system for monitoring and evaluation of the routine antenatal testing programme was established in July 2001 by the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC). Aggregate data on uptake of screening and the numbers of HIV diagnoses in pregnancy (known and new) are collected annually from all maternity hospitals/units and are collated nationally by HPSC.
The latest annual report on HIV Antenatal Screening in Ireland can be found here.


  1. Townsend CL, Byrne L, Cortina-Borja M, Thorne C, de Ruiter A, Lyall H, Taylor GP, Peckham CS, Tookey PA. Earlier initiation of ART and further decline in mother-to-child HIV transmission rates, 2000-2011.AIDS. 2014 Apr 24;28(7):1049-57.
  2. Helen Peters, Kate Francis, Rebecca Sconza, Anna Horn, Catherine S. Peckham, Pat A. Tookey, Claire Thorne; UK Mother-to-Child HIV Transmission Rates Continue to Decline: 2012–2014, Clinical Infectious Diseases, Volume 64, Issue 4, 15 February 2017, Pages 527–528

Last updated: 20 November 2019