April 14, 2003
The tests will be offered to women at about their 12th week of pregnancy and will also include screening for hepatitis B and syphilis. The tests will be offered on a voluntary basis, so women can choose not to participate in the program.
The College of Healthcare Assurance had recommended two options for HIV screening during the 12th week of pregnancy, which is seen as a critical time in fetal development. One option was offering a rapid 30-minute HIV test following the standard informed-consent procedure; and the second was offering, on an opt-out basis, a standard laboratory regime of STD testing with a choice of an additional blood test as required.
"The State Secretary chose the second option because the first was a 30-minute test and that was seen as not 100 percent accurate -- so if HIV is concluded, we want there to be no doubt for the woman," spokesperson Bas Kuik said.