Importance Of HIV Test During Pregnancy

Pregnancy is a complex yet rewarding journey that involves a series of testing, evaluation, and tailored treatment approaches. When it comes to antenatal screening, several tests might seem elusive, but they are important to keep you and your baby in good health.

Among these, HIV test is considered a mandate for the right reasons. You might be thinking, “Why would I need to undergo an HIV test while being pregnant?” Well, the reasons are extensive, and your and your baby’s safety is the number one reason why.

In this guide, we will take a look at the importance of HIV testing during pregnancy, emphasizing its role in preventing mother-to-child transmission, safeguarding maternal health, and contributing to the overall well-being of families.

What is HIV?

HIV, or human immunodeficiency virus, is a virus that “attacks the body’s immune system.” Since the virus directly attacks the T-cells in the immune system, not getting timely treatment makes the patient susceptible to a variety of infections, diseases, and even cancers.

The virus is primarily transmitted through sexual contact and contact with body fluids like blood, breast milk, or semen. Besides that, the virus can also be transmitted through sharing needles that are infected with HIV.

Lack of diagnosis and timely treatment contributes to the progression of the disease to 3 HIV and, eventually, AIDS. During pregnancy, if the mother is infected with HIV, there is a high chance for the baby to contract the virus as well. This is one of the reasons why getting comprehensive testing and evaluation for HIV is mandatory during pregnancy.

Is it Mandatory to Get HIV Testing During Pregnancy?

The answer to that is no. It is not MANDATORY to get an HIV test during pregnancy, but it is highly recommended as part of the antenatal screening.

Not just while pregnant, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) also emphasizes early screening if you are considering getting pregnant. This is a more optimal route because it alerts the individuals of potential complications before a baby is conceived.

The main reason why HIV testing during (and before) pregnancy is so encouraged and recommended is because a mother who’s infected with HIV has a high risk of transmitting the virus to the baby that’s developing inside their womb.

Studies have shown that with timely diagnosis and tailored treatment plans, it is possible to minimize the risks of transmission of the virus from the mother to the baby. So, if you are planning to get pregnant, it is always an idea to get an HIV screening done for your safety and the safety of your baby that you might conceive down the road.

What are the Common Symptoms of HIV during Pregnancy?

If you suspect something is wrong with you during your pregnancy that could be indicative of HIV, paying attention to the symptoms is key. You want to prioritize the symptoms instead of brushing them to the side.

Some of the common symptoms worth highlighting are:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Fatigue
  • Joint pain
  • Muscle aches
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Ulcers in the mouth
  • Sore throat
  • Yeast infections
  • Vaginal infections
  • Menstrual cycle changes

Now, these symptoms are very common, which is why misdiagnosis is prevalent. However, it is always ideal to be safe than sorry, which is why getting an HIV screening during pregnancy is encouraged.

Note: After transmission and manifestation of the initial symptoms like the one mentioned, HIV enters the clinical latency stage, where it remains for the next 10-15 years. So, during those years, the symptoms might be non-existent. This is why our team at Queen’s Gynecology encourages every patient to get an HIV screening while planning a baby or after they have conceived their baby.

How is HIV Tested during Pregnancy?

HIV screening is typically done via blood tests, and a few different types are worth discussing. They include:

Antigen/antibody tests – The test typically focuses on finding HIV antibodies and antigens in the patient’s blood after 18-45 days of exposure to the virus. There are also standard blood tests and rapid antigen tests, which aren’t as effective as the standard ones.

Antibody tests – The antibody test is either done via a saliva test or blood test to mainly look for HIV antibodies in the patient’s body after 23-90 days of being exposed to the virus. Self-testing kits are available, but we’d recommend getting it done from a reputed diagnostic laboratory for more accurate results.

Nucleic acid tests (NATs) – Besides looking for the antibodies and antigens in the patient’s blood, NATs directly look for traces of the virus. The test should be done after 10-33 days of exposure to the virus. Since this particular test is quite expensive, it is usually not the first recommendation by the doctors.

In most cases, HIV screening during pregnancy involves the antigen/antibody or antibody test to determine if the mother has HIV or not. Depending on the test results, a relevant treatment approach is curated for the patient to minimize the risk of virus transmission to the baby.


In conclusion, the importance of HIV testing during pregnancy cannot be overstated. Beyond its role in preventing mother-to-child transmission, HIV testing safeguards maternal health, supports overall family well-being, and contributes to the broader public health goal of eliminating new pediatric HIV infections.

At Queen’s Gynecology, our team is committed to ensuring a safe and healthy pregnancy for each patient and their developing fetus. We prioritize raising awareness surrounding HIV screening before and during pregnancy to ensure healthier outcomes for the mother and the children.

Kashmera Hazra

Kashmera Hazra

Kashmera Hazra is an engineer turned writer. She is an alumnus of the prestigious university Birla institute of technology, Mesra, and has several international journals and research papers in her name. She worked as a content writer with HealthKart and has over six years of experience in this field.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Get Queen's Gynecology App for all latest updates

Download App
Consult Now Get a Call Back