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Third Trimester Pregnancy Screening for Syphilis and HIV
NCSD has published a resource on Third Trimester Screening for Syphilis and HIV. This resource details the importance of screening during pregnancy, and lays out some current state policy trends regarding third trimester syphilis screening.
Sexually active pregnant women are as susceptible to a sexually transmitted disease (STD) as non-pregnant women, but the health risks associated with infection are higher. Many STDs, including HIV, do not show symptoms— making screening and testing of pregnant women imperative to prevent these serious health complications. The earlier treatment is received, the better the health outcomes. The results of untreated STDs acquired before or during pregnancy can have serious, even life-threatening, outcomes for the development of the fetus.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends prenatal testing for syphilis and HIV during a woman’s first prenatal visit and repeat testing for “highrisk” mothers during the third trimester (preferably 28-32 weeks). Increased testing for HIV during pregnancy has helped in drastically reducing vertical, or mother-to-child, transmission of HIV. Many states require testing pregnant women for HIV during their first and third trimester, leading to a public health victory in preventing perinatal cases of HIV. Of concern now are the rising rates of syphilis in the U.S., and consequently increasing rates of congenital syphilis. The majority of states only mandate testing pregnant women for syphilis during their first trimester, but increasing rates of congenital syphilis are leading public health officials and legislators to consider adding a requirement for third trimester syphilis testing. Harmonizing syphilis and HIV testing in the third trimester for pregnant women could have a significant impact on reducing congenital syphilis in the United States.