More than 90% of pediatric acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) cases are due to mother-to-child (vertical) transmission. Medical intervention can reduce the risk of vertical transmission human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) from 25% to less than 8%. However, studies have suggested that approximately one-fourth of women may refuse HIV testing as part of routine prenatal care. The purpose of this study was to identify concerns that pregnant women might have that would impact their decision to undergo HIV testing in pregnancy. The study is a cross-sectional survey of 413 pregnant women in south Texas. A survey questionnaire was used to assess reasons why subjects might avoid HIV testing and to assess their risks for HIV infection. The reasons for not wanting HIV testing grouped around four themes: (1) fear of being stigmatized as sexually promiscuous or as an injecting drug user; (2) denial about the possibility of being infected; (3) fatalism; and (4) of rejection leading to loss of emotional and financial support. Overall, 15% of subjects who had not been previously tested (5% of all subjects) indicated that they would refuse HIV testing, a rate which is below rates of 20%-24% in previous studies. The lower rate of refusal for HIV testing in our study may reflect a downward trend nationally in the rate of refusal for prenatal testing. Many women have concerns about HIV testing, although these concerns may not necessarily prevent them from undergoing testing. Physicians and policy makers need to be aware of women's concerns and fears when implementing HIV testing policies.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
- Infectious Diseases