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> Pamphlet - "Rapid HIV Test for Delivering Women"


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The aim of rapid HIV test for delivering women

It is important that a pregnant women knows her HIV status before delivery. Early detection will allow steps to be taken to reduce the risk of transmitting the virus to the baby. In Hong Kong, all pregnant women are routinely tested for HIV in the antenatal clinic. However, a typical HIV test may take more than I week to process.

Therefore, for any woman who is about to deliver and who does not know her HIV status yet, a rapid HIV test that takes only minutes SHOULD be done immediately so that appropriate steps can be taken to protect the baby.

One has to understand AIDS, its implications and the meaning of possible results before undergoing the rapid HIV test

AIDS - Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome

  • AIDS is caused by Human Immunodeficiency Virus, in short, HIV. After entering the body, the virus replicates and destroys the immune system. It gradually lowers the body resistance, makes the immune system give way to opportunistic infections or unusual tumors, and ultimately causes death.
  • The routes of transmission include sexual intercourse, blood contact or from an infected mother to her baby during pregnancy, delivery or breast feeding. The transmission rate from an infected mother to her baby is 15% to 40%.
  • Ordinary social contact, mosquito or insect bites cannot transmit HIV.

What is rapid test and how is it performed?

  • This test detects HIV antibodies in blood specimen.
  • The blood specimen is obtained by fingerstick or venipuncture. A small droplet of blood is taken from your finger and the test result can be read after 20 minutes.
  • The rapid HIV test result could be negative (-ve) or positive (+ve).

Rapid HIV negative (-ve) result

  • A negative rapid HIV test result means that the pregnant woman is not infected by HIV. However, one has to be aware of the 'window period'. When a person gets infected, the production of HIV antibodies might not be high enough to be detected, thus giving rise to a false negative result, which implies the existence of a potential virus transmission to the baby.
  • A pregnant woman who has a negative HIV blood result should continue with preventive measures to protect herself and the foetus against transmission of HIV. This includes practising safer sex such as making use of condom and refraining from needle-sharing for drug users.

Rapid HIV positive (+ve) result

  • A positive rapid HIV test result means that the pregnant woman is likely to have HIV infection and that the baby may have been exposed to HIV.
  • However, a false-positive result could also happen, therefore, the blood specimen will be sent to the laboratory for a further confirmation if the initial test gives a positive result.

Rapid HIV test result is strictly confidential

Early detection – how does it benefit the baby?

  • The studies have showed that early diagnosis and prompt antiretroviral therapy (ART) could reduce the mother-to-child transmission of HIV by as much as 50%, even it was just begun during labour and continued on the newborn.
  • The usual practice is to administer oral and intravenous ART as soon as possible to help prevent transmission of HIV to the baby.
    The doctor will determine a delivery procedure that can minimize the risk of HIV transmission.
  • Breast feeding is strongly discouraged after birth.
  • The baby has to continue with the oral ART and has to be followed up by the pediatrician for several weeks after birth, with purposes of the prevention and early detection of complications.
  • Once confirmed to be infected, the baby will be given appropriate treatment and follow-up care to improve his/her health.

For the protection of your baby, please get tested.

Should you have further queries about rapid HIV test and AIDS, please talk to your doctor or nurse.

You are also welcome to contact our Counsellor via the AIDS Hotline at 2780 2211.

For further information:
AIDS Hotline: 2780 2211

Red Ribbon Centre - UNAIDS Collaborating Centre for Technical Support
Address: 2/F., Wang Tau Hom Jockey Club Clinic, 200 Junction Road East, Kowloon, Hong Kong
Tel: (852) 3143 7200
Fax: (852) 2338 0534