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Equitable timing of HIV diagnosis prior to pregnancy: a Canadian perspective

Shoemaker ES, Volpini K, Smith S, Loutfy M, Kendall C. Cureus. 2021; 13(7):e16691. Epub 2021 Jul 28. DOI: https://doi.org/10.7759/cureus.16691


Initiating antiretrovirals prior to conception leads to a negligible risk of perinatal transmission. This study aimed to determine the timing of HIV diagnosis among pregnant women with HIV in Ontario. A retrospective population-level cohort study using linked health administrative databases was conducted to establish maternal HIV status and timing of HIV diagnosis of all women living with HIV who gave birth in 2006-2018. The majority of the 1012 women living with HIV who gave birth in Ontario were diagnosed prior to pregnancy (87.9%); however, many were not (12.1%). Among those diagnosed during pregnancy, only 23% were diagnosed in the first trimester. While HIV screening tests are being well directed towards young women, several women still enter pregnancy undiagnosed and are not diagnosed early. This calls for a continuous effort to promote universal pre-conception screening and to use HIV point-of-care testing for at-risk pregnant women and those presenting late to prenatal care.

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