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Why is testing for HIV during my pregnancy important?

Did you know that if you're HIV positive, getting proper treatment can reduce your risk of spreading the virus to your baby and is crucial to protect your own health?

It’s recommended that all pregnant women be tested for HIV as early as possible. If you're not offered an HIV test at your first prenatal visit, ask for one from your health care provider.

Although it's best for both you and your baby to begin treatment during pregnancy, getting treatment later is better than not being treated at all. If you haven't been tested during pregnancy or you're at high risk but your status is unknown, your healthcare provider may recommend rapid HIV testing when you're admitted to the hospital for labor and delivery.

Rapid HIV testing can rule out the condition within 30 minutes, though you'll need another test to confirm the diagnosis if you get a positive result. If you're found to be HIV positive, you can take immediate precautions to reduce the risk of transmitting HIV to your baby during childbirth.

Finally if you weren't tested before delivery, your baby may be tested after birth because starting treatment within 12 hours of delivery lowers a newborn's risk of becoming infected. Newborn testing is voluntary.