Hong Kong Women Need More Information on Vertical HIV Transmission, Study Says
Only about one-third of pregnant women in Hong Kong said they would try to protect themselves from HIV infection if they thought their sex partner was HIV-positive, leading researchers to conclude that women in Hong Kong need more information on vertical HIV transmission, according to a study published in the July 21 issue of the Journal of Advanced Nursing, Reuters Health reports (Reuters Health, 7/22). Alice Yuen Loke and Ho Choi-fung of Hong Kong Polytechnic University surveyed 191 pregnant women ages 17 to 40, who attended a prenatal clinic in Hong Kong between December 2000 and January 2001. Approximately 60% of women said that they thought they had no chance of contracting HIV, while 36.6% said that they thought there was a chance they could contract the virus (Moy, South China Morning Post, 7/22). Nearly 71% of the women said they would get tested for HIV with their partner if they thought he might be infected. However, only 38% said that they would refuse to have sex with their partner or insist that their partner use a condom if they suspected that he was HIV-positive (Reuters Health, 7/22). Of the women who said they would take measures to protect themselves, 23% said they would ask their partner to use a condom, 10.5% said they would refuse to have sex, and 4.7% said they would separate from their partner. Ninety-two percent of respondents said that they would make an appointment with their doctor if they found out that their partner was HIV-positive, while 23.6% of women said that they would have an abortion if their partners were found to be HIV-positive (South China Morning Post, 7/22).
Women Underestimating HIV Risk
"With the increasing volume of sex trade at the Hong Kong-China border, and the common phenomenon of men in Hong Kong having a second wife on the Chinese mainland, pregnant women in Hong Kong seemed to be unaware of their vulnerable position in relation to contracting HIV," Loke said, adding, "Health educators should provide tailor-made education programs for women at risk to enhance their knowledge" about vertical HIV transmission and safer sex. The researchers said that although the women studied seemed to be "fairly knowledgeable" about HIV in general, they seemed to be less informed about the possibility of mother-to-child HIV transmission (Reuters Health, 7/22). According to the Hong Kong Department of Health, six infants since 1984 have contracted HIV from their HIV-positive mothers (South China Morning Post, 7/22).