Pregnant women: One test. Two lives

CDC women's health director urges clinical action

A quick test can detect HIV. If HIV is caught early, you have the ability to give hope and impact a pregnant woman and the lifelong health of her infant, reminds Yvonne Green, RN, CNM, MSN, director of the office of women's health at Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In a recently posted message for clinicians, Green emphasized that screening is a crucial step for women who are HIV positive to be identified early enough to gain the most benefit from treatment. For pregnant women, screening allows the chance to greatly reduce transmitting the virus to the baby. Many women might not know the importance of an HIV test, which is why Green urges clinicians to provide information to their patients about the virus and to screen all of their pregnant patients as part of routine prenatal care.

For Green, supporting the "One Test. Two Lives." program which is a part of the Act Against AIDS campaign, is a natural extension of a career championing the cause of women's health. A registered nurse by training, Green began her interest in public health early while working in public health hospitals and public health clinics, including sexually-transmitted disease (STD) clinics, in Oklahoma and California. She then joined CDC in the fight against STDs. At CDC when the AIDS epidemic was beginning, Green worked to help get messages of prevention to those at high risk for HIV.

"All of us in public health have the opportunity to bring attention to health issues that affect women and to promote prevention to keep women healthy at all stages of their lives," Green says. A key message that she promotes is that HIV can be prevented and that HIV-positive pregnant women do not have to pass the virus on to their babies.