Nearly Half of U.S. Pregnant Women Still Not Tested for HIV, Study Says
Despite increases in the number of pregnant women tested for HIV, 44% of all pregnant women in the United States are still not being tested, according to a study published in the August issue of the American Journal of Public Health, Reuters Health reports. Dr. Amy Lansky and colleagues at the CDC researched data on 30,000 women participating in an ongoing national survey and found that the percentage of pregnant women receiving HIV tests increased from 41% in 1994 to 56% in 1999. In 1995, the U.S. Public Health Service issued guidelines recommending HIV testing for all pregnant women. Lansky told Reuters Health, "The main finding of our study was that HIV testing increased in the years following the introduction of guidelines for counseling and voluntary testing of all pregnant women. However, despite these increases, our data indicate that about half of pregnant women in the United States are not being tested." The researchers found that pregnant women were more likely to be tested if they lived in southern states, were not working, were between the ages of 18 and 24, had never been married and had health coverage. Lansky said, "Some pregnant women may be infected with HIV and not know it. Treatment with ... zidovudine can reduce the risk of HIV-infected women passing the virus to their babies. In addition, the treatment may benefit the health of the women" (Mulvihill, Reuters Health, 8/1).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.