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 vertical transmission 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 prevention of vertical transmission cascade.


The risk of vertical transmission can be reduced significantly by: (a) providing antiretroviral medicines for the mother during pregnancy and delivery; (b) supplying antiretroviral prophylaxis for the infant and antiretroviral medicines for the mother or child during breastfeeding (if applicable); (c) 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 of eliminating vertical transmission; (b) to inform policy and strategic planning; (c) to contribute to advocacy efforts; 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 giving birth at a facility who were tested for HIV during pregnancy, at labour and/or delivery, or those who already knew they were HIV-positive at the first antenatal care visit.


Population-based denominator: Number of pregnant women giving birth in the past 12 months.

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



Note: Countries with a population of more than 250 000 will report on this indicator within Spectrum. Global AIDS Monitoring users have the option to use their Spectrum estimate or to enter nationally representative population-level data. If Spectrum estimates are chosen, the values will be obtained directly from the final Spectrum file.

Method of measurement

Numerator: programme records, such as antenatal care registers or labour and delivery registers.

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 (positive) HIV infection at antenatal clinic entry.
  • Tested HIV-positive at first antenatal care during current pregnancy, labour and/or delivery. This excludes women who already knew their HIV-positive status prior to current pregnancy.
  • Tested HIV- negative at first antenatal care during current pregnancy, labour and/or delivery. This should be based on the latest test result in the case of repeat testing.

The sum of the above three counts should equal the number of women tested for HIV. The total identified HIV-positive women should equal the sum of known HIV-positive women at their first antenatal clinic entry plus those who tested HIV-positive at antenatal care during pregnancy, labour and/or delivery.

  • 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. Second edition. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2017 (