Objective: The HIV and Pregnancy Study of the Perinatal Guidelines Evaluation Project is a prospective, longitudinal, multisite study established to: (a) assess the implementation of Public Health Service guidelines regarding the prevention of perinatal HIV transmission and (b) evaluate the psychosocial consequences of HIV infection among pregnant women. A distinctive aspect of the study is the use of an HIV-negative comparison group. This article describes the methodology of the study and baseline characteristics of the study sample. Methods and Results. HIV-infected (n = 336) and uninfected (n = 298) pregnant women were enrolled from four geographic areas: Connecticut, North Carolina, Brooklyn, NY, and Miami, FL. The study included three structured face-to-face interviews from late pregnancy to six months postpartum for HIV-infected and uninfected women. Additional self-reports of medication adherence were collected for the HIV-infected participants, and the medical records of infected mothers and their infants were reviewed. Electronic monitoring of medication adherence was conducted for a subset of the infected women. The groups were successfully matched on self-reported characteristics, including HIV-risk behaviors. More than half of the uninfected women reported a high-risk sexual partner. Baseline comparisons indicated that both the HIV-infected and uninfected women had high levels of depressive symptoms, stress, and recent negative life events.
Conclusions: This study provides a unique description of the psychosocial and behavioral characteristics of a population of low-income women. The results of this study suggest that HIV infection is one of many stressors faced by the women in this study.