Press Release

On World AIDS Day 2003, Minister Martin welcomes the high uptake in Antenatal HIV Screening

Mr Micheál Martin T.D. Minister for Health and Children today, (1 December 2003), on World AIDS Day 2003, welcomes the high uptake of antenatal HIV screening.

“World AIDS Day celebrates progress made in the battle against the HIV/AIDS epidemic and brings into focus remaining challenges” stated the Minister.

The Minister went on to say that in April 1999, the Department of Health and Children introduced a policy of voluntary antenatal HIV screening in Ireland. As part of this programme, HIV screening is offered to all women who attend for antenatal services.

The objectives of HIV screening during pregnancy are to identify women who are HIV positive so that they can receive optimal care for themselves, to decrease the incidence of mother-to child transmission of HIV and the opportunity to decrease the risk of transmission of HIV to sexual partners or to identify infections in them.

The Minister also stated that “data on the voluntary antenatal screening programme has been collected since 2001. This data is collated by the National Disease Surveillance Centre. The data for 2002, is available in respect of the 53,929 women who were offered screening during pregnancy. Of these, 51,144 availed of the screening. This is an uptake of 94.8%. Of the 51,444 women screened, 156 were identified as HIV positive. Of these, 113 (72.4%) were new diagnoses, that is, they had not been previously aware of their HIV status. This data highlights the effectivness of the antenatal HIV screening programme in Ireland.”