Objectives: To describe trends in prevalence of HIV-1 infection among women giving birth at Chiang Rai Hospital (CRH) and to assess risk factors associated with HIV infection in this population.
Design: Analysis of hospital registry data for all deliveries at CRH from 1990 to mid-1997.
Methods: From 1990 to mid-1997, women giving birth at CRH were tested for HIV-1 infection using enzyme immunoassay (EIA); positive sera were confirmed using a different manufacturer's EIA. Demographic and clinical data were abstracted from delivery-ward log books.
Results: Data from 40723 deliveries indicated that overall HIV-1 seroprevalence increased sharply, from 1.3% in 1990 to a peak of 6.4% in 1994, and then declined to 4.6% in the first 6 months of 1997. Prevalence was highest, at 7.0%, among young (age < or = 24 years) primigravidas, compared with 2.4% among older (age > or = 25 years) multigravidas. When we controlled for age, prevalence declined 40% from 1994 to 1997 among young primigravidas (95% confidence interval for percentage reduction, 16-57). Amongst older multigravid women, prevalence was consistently lower but increased steadily from 2.7% in 1994 to 3.4% in 1997.
Conclusions: A rapid rise in HIV prevalence in childbearing women was followed by a sharp decline among young primigravidas. In each year, the prevalence was highest among young primigravidas. They may be the best subgroup of pregnant women for monitoring HIV epidemic trends, but they also represent a challenging prevention priority that will require its own targeted interventions.