Lab Update: Changes to HIV testing in pregnancy

Changes to HIV testing in pregnancy in the Northern Region, 1st September 2022

As of 1st September 2022, the first antenatal blood panel will include HIV testing. Up until now, universal HIV testing has been recommended at the first antenatal visit but has required a specific request, which has led to sub-optimal testing rates.

Following a period of consultation with regional governance groups and stakeholders and in line with international best practice, the Northern Region has elected to include HIV as a routine part of the first antenatal screen.

What do clinicians need to do?

The change will occur at all hospital and community laboratories in Auckland and Northland, and HIV will become part of the bundle of tests performed when a first antenatal screen is requested. The need for clinicians to request HIV specifically is removed.

If, after appropriate discussion, a patient does not want to be tested for HIV, then the clinician needs to actively specify that HIV is not to be included in the first antenatal screen (or if using Labtests/NPL e-order system select the First antenatal screen – no-HIV option).

Primary care providers may wish to update their practice management systems to reflect the new bundle. Labtests/NPL and hospital laboratory paper forms will be updated in due course.

What consent is required?

Obtaining informed consent for testing simply means the patient is aware of, and agrees to, being tested and understands the reason for the test. No more consent is required than for any other blood test.

Where to find more information and resources

HealthPathways is being updated to reflect these changes and provide these resources for clinician and patient.