HIV-AIDS Testing in Pregnant Women

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In the year 2001, "Regional HIV-AIDS Statistics and Features" (qtd. in AIDS 22) reported that nearly 340,000 adults and children in the United State's population were living with HIV-AIDS. And nearly twenty percent of those infected were women. Each year there are an estimated number of about forty-five thousand new confirmed HIV-AIDS. Because of the way that this virus is transmitted and passed through the blood, pregnant women should be tested for the HIV-AIDS virus to ensure the health and safety of the individuals involved in the birth process, including the medicals professionals, the child, and the mother as well.

Because the HIV-AIDS virus can be transmitted through a drop of blood no bigger than that of the head of a push pin, being in the delivery room can become a dangerous place for the doctors and nurses involved. Most privately owned medical offices already require that the woman be tested before any other pregnancy tests can be administered.

Although delivery rooms are very sanitary, the amount of blood involved in giving birth can make it a very dangerous place if the woman is infected with the HIV-AIDS virus and therefore she should be tested so that all necessary precautions can be put into place.

If a patient being tested is found positive for the HIV-AIDS virus there is a fifty percent chance that mother can pass the virus onto her child. Once the mother has been tested and found positive tests can then be giving to the unborn fetus to screen for the virus. Once the fetus has been tested and if the test results in a positive reading than the mother would ultimately be faced with the choice of weather or not she wants to have the baby. The mother would have the opportunity to abort the pregnancy or to carry the baby the full term and go through with the birth. Marie McCormick, from the North County Times, states that, "Women who test positive for HIV can then be treated with AZT, an anti-AIDS drug that has been found to substantially prevent the transmission of HIV from mother to child."# McCormick also states, "that routine testing, followed up by counseling if necessary, would do much to reduce the number of babies born with HIV."# If the mother does choose to have the child then medical procedures can begin as soon as the infant is born. For the most part, "HIV-infected children develop AIDS by age 5, and most have AIDS by age 10."# at this early age doctors can begin administering treatments that can delay symptoms and prolong the life of the child. "Children with AIDS are particularly susceptible to disorders of the central nervous system (CNS). HIV-related CNS disease may progress rapidly and can cause the loss of developmental milestones."# However with the treatments and medications available today, symptoms and conditions can be delayed so that those infected with the virus can live a long prosperous life.

Because of the way that the HIV-AIDS virus is transmitted and passed through the blood, screening for this disease in pregnant women should begin before any other tests or procedure are administered, to ensure the health and safety of the individuals involved in the birth process, including the doctors and nurses, the child, and the mother. With the way that this disease is spreading today, if HIV-AIDS testing was made mandatory for women who have become pregnant it would help greatly to deter the overall spread of this deadly virus.