Background Antenatal HIV testing in the UK has been a resounding success and is credited with reducing the rate of mother to child HIV transmission.
Aims To explore the characteristics of women who did not have the HIV test at booking, the reasons for declining and adherence to local policy on re-offering tests later in pregnancy. Between April 2010 and April 2011 a review of maternity case notes was carried out.
Results 6723 women were booked in early pregnancy in the relevant time period and 33 (0.5%) of these women did not have a documented HIV test. Notes were only available for 32 of these women.
31/32 (96.8%) of the women were UK born, 27 (84.4%) partners were UK born. 11 (34.4%) women were pregnant for the first time. 13 (40.6%) women had no documentation of a HIV test within a year of booking. There was no documentation of intravenous drug use in any of the women or their partners. 7 (21.9%) women did not have any other blood borne virus testing done and none of these women had a recent documented HIV test either. Only in 8 (25%) women was there documentation of reasons for declining. 5 (12.5%) women were re-offered screening at about 28 weeks gestation in line with local policy with 4 (80%) accepting. 6 of 18 women were offered testing on admission to the labour ward and 2 (33.3%) were tested.
Discussion The maternity unit has a policy for dealing with women declining HIV testing in pregnancy and achieved a 99.6% acceptance rate. This study shows that there are some problems with documentation of previous testing, risk assessment and consistently re-offering of the screening tests later on in pregnancy. When the test was re-offered later on in pregnancy there was a high acceptance rate emphasising the benefit of this approach. In view of these results further training of midwives with an emphasis on HIV risk assessment and re-offering testing later on in pregnancy will be implemented.
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