A recent study has proven beneficial for children born with HIV. During
the study, women were counseled on the importance of HIV testing before
the birth of their child in order to establish their HIV status and
begin immediate treatment for the child post birth.

After counseling, the women were asked to participate in rapid HIV testing.

The study was held in two hospitals in Cameroon. More than 2,400 women participated in the counseling sessions with just over 2,100 agreeing to HIV testing during labor. Of the 2,100 women tested, 10% tested positive for HIV. About 97% of all infant HIV cases are born to mothers who are positive for HIV.

With about 40% of the infants born with HIV being born to mothers without any knowledge of their positive status, these tests are truly important to the health and well being of both mother and child. Unlike the United States where HIV testing is part of prenatal care, some countries offer little or no prenatal testing or the pregnant women choose not to undergo prenatal screenings.

While the United States is known for prenatal testing, in a United States based counseling study, 190 women were counseled and agreed to HIV testing. Of these women, seven tested positive for HIV with post partum testing verifying three of the positive tests. The tests performed during labor are rapid HIV tests which carry a larger chance of false positive compared to the traditional HIV testing.

Across the world, rapid HIV testing during labor is being used to determine the HIV status of mothers before they give birth, but not every country is accepting the test as well as Cameroon and the United States. In Cameroon, 88% of the women counseled accepted the rapid HIV testing. In the United States, 84% of the laboring women accepted the test and in Uganda, 86% of the women agreed to HIV testing. In India, however, that rate dropped to 40% conversion from counseling to testing.

The study researchers noted the high percentage of women who tested positive when counseled during labor, even in the United States where HIV testing is a part of all prenatal care screenings. This leads the researchers to believe that women who fail to accept the HIV test during their prenatal care may fear having a positive status.

Researchers also noted that postpartum testing may provide an even better result. Mothers who are post partum may be able to better understand the consequences of HIV on the health of their baby and themselves as mothers. Additional counseling for mothers who refuse the rapid HIV testing during labor may yield an even higher percentage of women who are positive for HIV and previously did not know their status.

Study Title: Acceptability of intrapartum HIV counseling and testing in
Authors: Eugene J Kongnyuy1, Enow R Mbu2, Francois X
Mbopi-Keou3, Nelson Fomulu2, Philip N Nana2, Pierre M Tebeu2, Rebecca N
Tonye2 and Robert JI Leke2
Date: February 27. 2009
Journal: BMC
Pregnancy and Childbirth