HIV testing in pregnant women

Export Indicator

Percentage of pregnant women with known HIV status
What it measures

Coverage of the first step in the prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) cascade. High coverage enables early initiation of care and treatment for HIV-positive mothers. The total number of identified HIV-positive women provides the facility-specific number of pregnant women with HIV to start a facility-based PMTCT cascade.


The risk of mother-to-child transmission (MTCT) can be significantly reduced by providing antiretroviral medicines— either as lifelong therapy or as prophylaxis—for the mother during pregnancy and delivery, with antiretroviral prophylaxis for the infant and antiretroviral medicines to the mother or child during breastfeeding if applicable, and by instigating safe delivery practices and safer infant feeding.

Data will be used in the following ways: (a) to track progress towards global and national goals to eliminate MTCT; (b) to inform policy and strategic planning; (c) for advocacy; and (d) to leverage resources for accelerated scale-up. It will help measure trends in coverage of antiretroviral prophylaxis and treatment, and when disaggregated by regimen type, will assess progress in implementing more effective regimens and antiretroviral therapy.


Number of pregnant women attending antenatal clinics and/or having a facility-based delivery who were tested for HIV during pregnancy, or already knew they were HIV- positive.


Population-based denominator: Number of pregnant women who delivered within the past 12 months.

Programme-based denominator: Number of pregnant women who attended an antenatal clinic or had a facility-based delivery in the past 12 months.



Method of measurement

Numerator: programme records, such as antenatal care registers or labour and delivery registers. Some people pick up several months of antiretroviral medicine at one visit. If the duration of the medicine picked up covers the last month of the reporting period, these people should still be counted as receiving antiretroviral therapy (as opposed to having stopped treatment).

Population-based denominator: estimates from central statistics office, UN Population Division or vital statistics.

Facility-based denominator: programme records, such as antenatal care registers or labour and delivery registers.

Measurement frequency

Annual or more frequently, depending on a country’s monitoring needs

HIV status/test results:
  • Known HIV infection at antenatal clinic entry.
  • Tested HIV-positive at antenatal care during current pregnancy.
  • Tested HIV- negative at antenatal care during current pregnancy. This should be based on the latest test result in the case of repeat testing.
  • Cities (optional).
  • Pregnant women who inject drugs.
Additional information requested

Look at trends over time: if disaggregated data is available by region, see whether any lower performing areas can be identified. Review if data are available on the percentage of antenatal care attendees who know their status, including those with previously confirmed HIV status and those tested and the percentage of labour and delivery attendees who know their status.


Strengths and weaknesses

This indicator enables a country to monitor trends in HIV testing among pregnant women. The points at which dropouts occur during the testing and counselling process—and the reasons why they occur—are not captured by this indicator. This indicator does not measure the quality of the testing or counselling. It also does not capture the number of women who received pre-test counselling.

Further information

Global guidance on criteria and processes for validation: elimination of mother-to-child transmission of HIV and syphilis. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2014 (