Routine prenatal HIV testing: women's concerns and their strategies for addressing concerns

Matern Child Health J. 2012 Feb;16(2):464-9. doi: 10.1007/s10995-011-0754-4.


The purpose of this exploratory study was to solicit women's opinions about the process of routine prenatal HIV testing to identify strategies for routine testing that will address women's concerns, increase their level of comfort with testing, and support universal prenatal HIV testing. A convenience sample of English-speaking women between 18 and 45 years of age who were HIV-negative or of unknown HIV status were recruited for focus groups at four diverse community sites in four states. Focus group discussion questions addressed health care provider approaches and actions that would make a woman feel more comfortable with the process of routine prenatal HIV testing. Twenty-five women agreed to participate; most women (64%) were of Black, non-Hispanic race/ethnicity; 44% were 25-34 years of age. Thematic analysis of women's concerns about routine prenatal HIV testing fell into the following categories: fear, protecting the baby, protecting the woman, confidentiality, and stigma. Women's strategies for addressing these concerns were related to themes of education and information, normalizing HIV testing, patient-provider relationships, systems, and private communication. Participants offered numerous insightful and practical suggestions for addressing their concerns thereby supporting universal routine prenatal HIV testing. The themes that arose in this study support the conclusion that women will be more comfortable with routine prenatal HIV testing if they are fully informed and knowledgeable about the rationale for HIV testing during pregnancy and their right to decline, and if testing is carried out in a confidential and supportive health care environment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Diagnostic Tests, Routine
  • Fear
  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • HIV Infections / diagnosis*
  • HIV Infections / prevention & control*
  • HIV Infections / psychology
  • Health Education
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Infectious Disease Transmission, Vertical / prevention & control*
  • Mass Screening
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications, Infectious / diagnosis*
  • Pregnancy Complications, Infectious / prevention & control
  • Prenatal Care*
  • Young Adult