Knowledge of their children's HIV status in HIV-positive mothers attending a genitourinary medicine clinic in the UK

HIV Med. 2008 Apr;9(4):257-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-1293.2008.00556.x.


Objectives: To determine whether HIV-infected mothers knew the HIV status of their children, enabling the offer of targeted testing of children at risk.

Methods: All HIV-positive women attending the genitourinary medicine clinic at a district general hospital in the United Kingdom were asked whether they had children and the age, HIV status and residence of their children using a standardized proforma.

Results: A total of 297 HIV-positive women were included in a prospective audit. Two hundred and fifty-four women had 551 offspring; 143 had a total of 217 children aged <16 years. Of those children, 118 lived in the United Kingdom. Of the 99 children living abroad, 71% were living in Zimbabwe, 21% in other African countries (Zambia, Kenya, Burundi, Malawi and South Africa) and 5% in Jamaica and other Caribbean countries. Of the 118 children living in the UK, mothers knew the HIV status in 49 (42%), of whom nine (18%) were HIV positive. A further two older offspring were also HIV positive. Mothers were aware of the HIV status in significantly fewer children staying in the country of origin: nine (9%; P<0.05), of whom four were known to be HIV positive. All HIV-positive children living in the United Kingdom were under the care of paediatricians with special expertise in paediatric HIV infection.

Conclusions: The HIV status of the majority of children of HIV-positive immigrant mothers is unknown, particularly those children who remain in their country of origin.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Africa South of the Sahara / ethnology
  • Ambulatory Care Facilities
  • Attitude to Health
  • Caribbean Region / ethnology
  • Female
  • Female Urogenital Diseases / therapy
  • HIV Infections / diagnosis
  • HIV Infections / epidemiology*
  • Humans
  • Mothers / psychology
  • Prospective Studies
  • United Kingdom / epidemiology