Faculty Articles


New Mother's Knowledge and Attitudes About Perinatal Human Immunodeficiency Virus infection

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Obstetrics and Gynecology





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Objectives: To assess new mothers’ attitudes toward perinatal human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) testing, their knowledge about perinatal HIV, and their trust of government and scientists. Methods: In a cross-sectional survey of 1362 postpartum women at four United States locations in 1997, a standardized interview was administered to new mothers 24–48 hours postpartum to determine their HIV test acceptance, attitudes, and knowledge. Results: Seventy-five percent of women who were offered HIV tests reported being tested. Although 95% of women were aware of perinatal HIV transmission, only 60% knew that HIV can be transmitted through breast-feeding, and only 51% knew of medication to prevent perinatal transmission. Eighty-four percent of women thought that all pregnant women should be tested for HIV, and 60% thought that prenatal HIV testing should be legally mandated. Twenty percent of women indicated mistrust of government and scientists regarding origins of HIV and potential cures for AIDS. Knowledge about perinatal transmission was unrelated to receipt of prenatal HIV tests. When other factors were controlled for, mistrust was not significantly associated with getting tested. Conclusion: Incomplete knowledge of prevention of perinatal HIV transmission and mistrust were prevalent among new mothers. Knowledge deficits or mistrust did not appear to reduce reported prenatal test rates, but our data suggest that future public health efforts need to educate women about methods of preventing perinatal HIV transmission and at enhancing their trust in the public health system.


Medical Specialties | Medicine and Health Sciences | Osteopathic Medicine and Osteopathy

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