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Br J Obstet Gynaecol. 1996 Nov;103(11):1129-33.

Voluntary universal antenatal HIV testing.

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Academic Department of Genitourinary Medicine, University College London Medical School, UK.



To assess the uptake of universal voluntary named HIV testing of hospital booked antenatal women and to identify behavioural and demographic factors associated with testing. To identify the number of previously undiagnosed women detected by the new policy and to compare prevalence among those testing with that measured by unlinked anonymous monitoring.


Self-completion questionnaire and data abstraction from structured booking forms and virology laboratory records.


Central London teaching hospital antenatal clinic.


One thousand three hundred and seventy-four women booking with a hospital based midwife during the 49 weeks from 27 July 1993 to 1 July 1994.


Before the introduction of the new testing policy fewer than 10 women per year had an HIV test, and during the study this rose to 41% (548/1340). In univariate analysis, caucasian and Mediterranean ethnic origin, fewer previous live births, and more than one lifetime sexual partner were associated with higher uptake of HIV testing. In a multivariate model only the number of previous live births and ethnic origin remained significantly associated with testing. Six women out of 828 (1%) who completed the question about nonprescribed drug use stated that they had injected drugs, and four of these women accepted a test. Two women, both with recognised major risk factors for HIV infection, were diagnosed HIV antibody positive (a prevalence in the tested women of 0.36%). A further three women were already known to be HIV antibody positive. During the 12 months from July 1993 seven women (0.24%) were found to be positive by unlinked anonymous testing.


The introduction of a universal approach to antenatal HIV testing appears feasible: it increased the uptake of the test and detected previously unrecognised infections. Many women chose not to be tested, however, and cases remained undiagnosed. Further studies are required to examine different models of offering HIV testing, reasons for declining the test, and the cost-benefit of antenatal HIV screening.

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