Missed Opportunities for Repeat HIV Testing in Pregnancy: Implications for Elimination of Mother-to-Child Transmission in the United States

AIDS Patient Care STDS. 2017 Jan;31(1):20-26. doi: 10.1089/apc.2016.0204. Epub 2016 Dec 12.


HIV testing is an effective intervention that is used for reducing perinatal HIV transmission. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends a second HIV test during the third trimester of pregnancy for women in settings with an elevated HIV incidence (≥17 cases per 100,000 person-years). We conducted a retrospective cohort study at a single hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, to determine whether a second HIV test was done and to compare HIV retesting with mandated syphilis retesting. Of women who delivered at this hospital, 98.8% received prenatal care. Descriptive, bivariate, and multivariable analyses were performed. Among 1632 women, mean age was 27.6 years (standard deviation: 6.3), 59.6% were black, and 55.5% were single. HIV retesting was done in 28.4% of women, which was significantly less often compared with the state-mandated syphilis retesting (78.7%, p < 0.001). The odds of having an HIV retest were 15 times higher among women who received prenatal care at a teaching clinic [adjusted odds ratio (aOR): 15.58; 95% confidence interval (CI): 11.12-21.81], and they were lower among women with private insurance (aOR: 0.54, 95% CI: 0.34-0.86). The odds of having a syphilis retest were twice as high among women who received prenatal care at a faculty practice (aOR: 2.17; 95% CI: 1.53-3.09), and they were lower among women with private insurance (aOR: 0.61, 95% CI: 0.43-0.88). Emphasizing an "opt-out" HIV retesting approach through state laws may minimize risk perception, and this is one strategy that can be considered in areas of high HIV incidence to reach the goal of eliminating perinatal HIV transmission in the United States.

Keywords: HIV missed opportunity; prenatal HIV screening; prenatal syphilis screening; repeat HIV testing.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Baltimore / epidemiology
  • Delivery of Health Care
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / diagnosis*
  • HIV Infections / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Infectious Disease Transmission, Vertical / prevention & control*
  • Mass Screening*
  • Mothers / statistics & numerical data*
  • Odds Ratio
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications, Infectious / diagnosis
  • Pregnancy Complications, Infectious / epidemiology
  • Pregnancy Trimester, Third
  • Prenatal Care / methods*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Serologic Tests
  • Syphilis / diagnosis*
  • Syphilis / epidemiology
  • United States