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Maternity tests find 109 HIV mothers

MATERNITY hospitals have revealed 109 pregnant women tested HIV positive last year.

Seventeen women were newly diagnosed as a result of voluntary antenatal screenings -- their case was not previously known.

There were 68,111 women booked for antenatal screening nationwide last year, of which 24,649 were in the HSE Dublin Mid-Leinster area and 14,958 were in Dublin North-East area, according to figures contained in a Health Protection Surveillance (HPSC) report.


Another 13,230 were booked in the HSE South area, and 15,274 in the Western region.

HIV screening is offered routinely to all pregnant women, and the HPSC collects data from 20 maternity hospitals and units.

In the HSE Northwest and Southeast areas, the data is collated at regional level prior to sending on to the HPSC.

Its report said the national reported uptake of HIV antenatal screening was nearly 99pc last year among the participating hospitals.

The HPSC report said "a HIV infected mother can transmit the virus to her baby during pregnancy, delivery or breastfeeding".

However, the risk of transmission can be "dramatically reduced" by treatment of the mother, management of the delivery and the avoidance of breast feeding.

It said that "the combined effects of these interventions is reported in some studies to reduce the transmission risk from 15pc to 30pc to 2pc or less".

However, measures to prevent transmission of HIV from mother to child can only be offered if HIV infection is diagnosed prior to delivery, the HPSC report said.

The figures showed that the prevalence of HIV infection among pregnant women varied among different HSE areas.

The report said throughout Europe, pockets of higher prevalence among pregnant women have been reported in major urban areas.

Meanwhile, the figures show that between 2002 and 2011, 1,242 antenatal HIV screening tests were positive. Of these 463 (37pc) were not previously known to be HIV positive and were first diagnosed at antenatal screening.