HIV / AIDS : Prenatal Testing Program

HIV Testing is Important for You and Your Baby.

Why should I think about HIV testing now ?

An HIV test early in your pregnancy will give you information to make informed and responsible decisions about your health and the health of your baby.

In addition to other routine blood tests, your healthcare provider recommends that prenatal care for all pregnant women include HIV testing. You may wish to include your partner in discussions about HIV testing.

The HIV Test

HIV testing is accurate, free of charge and can be done at the same time as your other prenatal blood tests.

You should be tested if you are pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant.

If you have any concerns about being tested for HIV, talk to your healthcare provider. He or she will answer any questions you have.

Your healthcare provider will not order an HIV test without your consent. If you decide not to take the test, your healthcare provider will continue to provide you with the same standard of care he / she provides to all of his / her patients.

Test Results

If your HIV test is negative, it is unlikely you are infected with HIV. However, if you have been exposed to any risk for HIV recently, such as unprotected sex or sharing needles or other injection equipment, you should consider testing again in three months.

If your test is positive, you are infected with HIV. You can pass HIV to your baby without knowing it during pregnancy, labour, delivery and breastfeeding. However, there are effective treatments to help you stay healthy and greatly reduce the chances that you will pass HIV to your baby.

As with many other diseases, positive HIV results are collected by Public Health. See the list of sites that test anonymously.

These questions and answers about HIV testing will help you make the decision that's right for you.

I'm sure I'm not at risk for HIV infection. Why should I be tested?

It's important to be sure. That's why the HIV test and other prenatal tests (hepatitis B, rubella and syphilis) are done routinely.

Does the test have to be done now or can I think about it?

If you want to take some time to think about the information you have received from your healthcare provider, you can wait to be tested. If you decide to be tested for HIV at a later date, remember to ask for the test at your next prenatal appointment, and be sure to ask for the results about two weeks after the test. Or you can arrange to be tested at another site, such as an anonymous testing site.

How long does it take to get the results of my test?

It takes about two weeks to get the results. As this waiting period can be a stressful time for many women, we recommend you speak to a counsellor or health worker in your community who can discuss your concerns with you.

What do I do if I'm positive? What about my baby?

There are drugs to help you stay healthy for a long time. The same drugs will reduce the chances that you will pass HIV to your baby. With treatment, this chance is reduced to about one to two percent. Without treatment, there is a 15 to 30 percent chance you will pass HIV to your baby. A Caesarian section may also reduce the chance of passing HIV to your baby during delivery.

If I am HIV positive, should I continue with this pregnancy?

You can get treatment and support to help you stay healthy during your pregnancy and reduce the chances that you will transmit HIV to your baby. You may want to discuss other options with your healthcare provider.

How will I tell my partner?

Sharing this news is complicated and difficult and depends, in part, on the type of relationship you have with your partner. There are caring counsellors and healthcare providers who can help you make a plan and support you to act on it. Begin by asking your healthcare provider for help.

Will a positive HIV test affect my immigration status or my ability to travel?

A positive test may affect your plans to immigrate or travel and your access to life insurance. Some of your personal relationships may also be affected.

For More Information

Call ServiceOntario, Infoline at:
1-866-532-3161 (Toll-free in Ontario only)
TTY 1-800-387-5559.
In Toronto, TTY 416-327-4282
Hours of operation : 8:30am - 5:00pm

If you are a member of the media, call Communications and Marketing Branch at 416-314-6197 or visit our News Room section.

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