HIV Testing in Pregnancy

HealthLinkBC File Number: 
Last Updated: 
November 2012

Why should you get tested?

HIV positive women who are pregnant can almost completely eliminate the chance of passing the virus to their baby if they receive expert medical care and are given medicines to treat the virus.

Health experts in British Columbia recommend that all pregnant women be tested for HIV at the start of each pregnancy. If the expectant mother has had high-risk exposures during the pregnancy, then the test should be repeated during the pregnancy.

HIV testing in pregnancy is not done in many developing countries and parents or guardians of children born in or adopted from these countries should consider HIV testing for their children.

It is very important for all women and men to know their HIV status in order to access care, treatment and education to manage their disease.

What are the chances that you are HIV positive?

The chance of a pregnant woman being HIV positive is much higher if she takes part in known HIV risk behaviours. For more information, see HealthLinkBC File #08m HIV and HIV Tests.

Infection of the baby happens before or during the birthing process. It usually only occurs with women who were not tested in pregnancy, and received no HIV care during their pregnancy.

In B.C., women who are HIV positive and receive specialized pregnancy and delivery care can eliminate mother to child transmission of the virus. It is very important to get tested for HIV to protect your baby from HIV infection.

How do you get tested?

With your consent, your health care provider can arrange a test for HIV. Counseling is available before and after the test for HIV.

Where can you get more information?

You can get information about being tested for HIV from the Public Health Nurses in your local health unit.

For more information about HIV testing during pregnancy, contact the Oak Tree Clinic located at the BC Women's Hospital & Health Centre at 604-875-2212 or visit

Is it an emergency?

If you or someone in your care has chest pains, difficulty breathing, or severe bleeding, it could be a life-threatening emergency. Call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number immediately.
If you are concerned about a possible poisoning or exposure to a toxic substance, call Poison Control now at 1-800-567-8911.

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