FAQs

HIV can sometimes be complicated to treat. There are doctors who specialize in treating people with HIV. You can get a referral to an HIV specialist in your area by calling 1-800-439-4079.

For information about the Act, click here. For information on the Illinois AIDS Confidentiality Act and other legal topics, you can download a legal guide at www.aidslegal.com or contact the Legal Council for Health Justice at 312-427-8990.

A negative rapid HIV test is interpreted as negative. No confirmatory testing is required. If a woman was exposed to the virus within the last 3 months, repeat testing is recommended as the rapid test may not detect a recent infection.
 

The Illinois Department of Public Health has partnered with the Pediatric AIDS Chicago Prevention Initiative and other organizations to develop a statewide safety net for perinatal HIV designed to identify and link to care pregnant HIV-infected women who might otherwise fall through the cracks in the health care system. The key elements of the safety net include the 24/7 Illinois Perinatal HIV Hotline, rapid HIV testing in labor and delivery units throughout the state, and enhanced perinatal HIV case management for the highest risk women and their infants.

Consult your doctor about the safest method for you to conceive. This will likely include taking anti-retroviral medicines and getting an undetectable viral load. There are various methods to help couples conceive that will take into account the HIV status of both partners to reduce the risk. While there is some risk of HIV infection, or HIV-reinfection, there are ways to reduce or eliminate that risk to both parties.

It is critical that when a patient has a positive rapid test result a confirmatory test is sent immediately. A positive result should promptly trigger a call to the Illinois Perinatal HIV Hotline as required by Illinois law. As a team you and the hotline staff will determine the most appropriate clinical and social course to assure the risk of HIV transmission from the patient to her infant is optimally reduced.

The Hotline is staffed by medical and social service care providers from Northwestern Memorial Hospital, Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital, and the Pediatric AIDS Chicago Prevention Initiative Enhanced Case Management Program.

If a woman is HIV-negative and her partner is HIV-positive, there is no risk of perinatal transmission to the baby. However, pregnant women are at an increased risk for HIV infection and a woman who becomes HIV-positive while pregnant has a greater chance of transmitting the virus to her baby. HIV-negative women with HIV-positive sex partners should seek counseling on the multiple measures that can be taken to prevent her from becoming infected, including ensuring her partner treats his virus with pills, taking pills called pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), and consistently using condoms with each episode of intercourse. Because of the ongoing risk of HIV infection, all women in Illinois are required to be counseled and offered an HIV test both at the initial prenatal visit and again in their third trimester of pregnancy.

 

The 24/7 Illinois Perinatal HIV Hotline (1-800-439-4079) can help you link your client with programs in your area. In Chicago, there are five specialty HIV/Obstetric programs that will handle both the HIV and obstetric aspects of pregnancy. In other metropolitan areas of the state there are similar programs.

During this time it is important to note that a patient’s decision to accept an HIV test and the results of that test are to be kept confidential. Labor and delivery staff need to be vigilant of this at all times. The discussion of test results should occur in an environment where the patient feels comfortable and safe. The patient may not want to disclose information regarding her choice to be tested or the results of the test to her family members, partner, or friends. Ask the patient prior to obtaining the rapid HIV test who she wants present when she receives the results. Only the individuals identified should be in the room when the results are relayed. If English is not the patient’s primary language, interpretation services should be utilized. Staff should not use family members or friends to discuss test results or provide information surrounding the results.

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