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Monday, 09 October 2017 08:32

Pregnant women must be tested twice for HIV - Blantyre DHO

Written by  Charles Mphwere
Blantyre DHO Dr Medson Matchaya Blantyre DHO Dr Medson Matchaya

Blantyre, October 07, 2017: Blantyre District Health Officer, Dr Medson Matchaya says pregnant women need to be encouraged to take HIV test twice during their time of pregnancy as the first test does not guarantee that they are HIV negative.

Dr Matchaya made the remarks in an interview with the Malawi News Agency (Mana) following reports that pregnant women who are attending antenatal clinic at Kadidi Health Centre in Lunzu are being told that they would be tested again when they go for delivery.

“It’s not necessarily like that. What we are saying is that we are encouraging pregnant women to come for testing in their first trimester. As you know, for a woman to deriver it takes nine months. So, if she comes during her first trimester it means she has six more months before delivery. Therefore she needs to be re-tested so that they can really be sure that they are negative,” he said.

“However, in instances where the women got tested for HIV at eight months of the pregnancy, it means she won’t be tested again because the three months which are set as window period will end after she has delivered,” he added.

He further said; “Testing twice does not apply to pregnant women only but it’s a policy for HIV testing hence the development has been there,” he said. 

Margret Phiri a mother of two said it is sad that most women are not tested twice during antenatal clinic.

“It’s sad to note that pregnant women are not tested twice in most health clinics because a negative result from the first test could be misleading and chances could be that she was in the window period,
“I think it is the duty of the health service providers to make sure that pregnant women are tested twice, just like any other person. At the same time, pregnant women should also be responsible for themselves and the health of the unborn children,” she said.

Unlike the HIV testing policy that requires an individual to be tested twice for one to be confirmed negative, most pregnant women are tested once for the entire nine months of pregnancy.

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