A significant proportion of women found to have HIV during pregnancy do not disclose their status to their male partners, according to British researchers. The team from Londons North Middlesex Hospital called for both men and women to be tested simultaneously to prevent this problem. Of 59 expectant mothers testing HIV-positive during antenatal screening at NMH between March 1999 and July 2002, 48 were of African origin. Of 15 women who did not disclose their status, five had lost contact with their partner; two other women had been raped. The remaining eight women chose not to tell. Antenatal HIV testing was highly effective to prevent mother-to-child transmission, but could lead to the breakup of relationships, domestic violence, homelessness and destitution. All couples where both partners were infected remained together. But in 21 cases where only one partner was infected, six of the men left the relationship. Of 53 children born so far, 46 were HIV-negative, the status of six could not be determined, and one was born HIV-positive to a mother who did not have antenatal intervention.
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