New Mothers Unaware of HIV Transmission Through Breastfeeding, Availability of Antiretroviral Drugs
A study in the January issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology finds that a "high percentage" of new mothers are unaware that HIV can be transmitted through breastfeeding and that antiretroviral drugs can prevent perinatal HIV transmission, Reuters Health reports. Researchers from Duke Children's Primary Care in Durham, N.C., conducted a cross-sectional survey of 1,362 women, with a mean age of 27.4, 24 to 48 hours after birth, to "determine their knowledge of perinatal HIV transmission and their willingness to be tested." Conducted in 1997 at seven hospitals in North Carolina, Florida, New York and Connecticut, the study revealed that 95% of women were aware of perinatal HIV transmission, but only 60% knew that HIV could be transmitted through breastfeeding and only 51% knew that medication is available to prevent perinatal transmission. Researchers also found that 84.3% of the women surveyed said "all pregnant women" should undergo HIV testing and 60.3% said such testing should be "legally mandated." However, only 67.5% of survey participants reported undergoing prenatal HIV testing. The study authors concluded that women, "especially those who have not completed high school," require HIV education through public health efforts (Reuters Health, 1/23).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.