Planning, implementation, and evaluation of an HIV-screening program for pregnant women

Magda Leticia Garcia, The University of Texas School of Public Health


The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of an HIV-screening program at a private health-care institution where the providers were trained to counsel pregnant women about the HIV-antibody test according to the latest recommendations made by the U.S. Public Health Service (PHS) and the Texas legislature. A before-and-after study design was selected for the study. The participants were OB/GYN nurses who attended an educational program and the patients they counseled about the HIV test. Training improved the nurses' overall knowledge about the content of the program and nurses were more likely to offer the HIV test to all pregnant women regardless of their risk of infection. Still, contrary to what was predicted, the nurses did not give more information to increase the knowledge pregnant women had about HIV infection, transmission, and available treatments. Consequently, many women were not given the chance to correctly assess their risk during the counseling session and there was no evidence that knowledge would reduce the propensity of many women to deny being at risk for HIV. On the other hand, pregnant women who received prenatal care after the implementation of the HIV-screening program were more likely to be tested than women who received prenatal care before its implementation (96% vs. 48%); in turn, the likelihood that more high-risk women would be tested for HIV also increased (94% vs. 60%). There was no evidence that mandatory testing with right of refusal would deter women from being tested for HIV. When the moment comes for a woman to make her decision, other concerns are more important to her than whether the option to be tested is mandatory or not. The majority of pregnant women indicated that their main reasons for being tested were: (a) the recommendation of their health-care provider; and (b) concern about the risks to their babies. Recommending that all pregnant women be tested regardless of their risk of infection, together with making the HIV test readily available to all women, are probably the two best ways of increasing the patients' participation in an HIV-screening program for pregnant women.

Subject Area

Public health|Obstetrics|Gynecology

Recommended Citation

Garcia, Magda Leticia, "Planning, implementation, and evaluation of an HIV-screening program for pregnant women" (1997). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI9809541.