Early identification of pregnant women infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is becoming increasingly important in light of recent findings that interventions during and shortly after pregnancy can reduce the rates of vertical transmission. The ability of patients to accurately self report previous HIV testing and test results is important in clinical settings. Over a one-year period, 283 women attending a hospital-affiliated obstetrical clinic reported previous HIV testing (44% of the total women approached), and 105 women (37% of the women reporting previous testing) reported being previously tested at that hospital. Self-reported data on previous HIV resting at the hospital were compared with information maintained in a centralized computerized database by the hospital laboratory. Only 41.9% of the women who reported previous HIV testing at the hospital had their reports confirmed. Women whose HIV testing reports were confirmed were found to be similar to those women whose reports were not confirmed with regard to age, educational level, gestational age, parity, reason(s) for seeking HIV testing, and knowledge of testing, transmission and acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). These data suggest that, when HIV status is of concern, health care professionals should continue to encourage testing in the absence of laboratory documentation of recent HIV antibody testing.
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