Background: The number of reported pregnancies in women with diagnosed HIV in the UK increased from 80 in 1990 to over 1400 in 2010; the majority were among women born in sub-Saharan Africa. There is a paucity of research on how social adversity impacts upon pregnancy in HIV positive women in the UK; furthermore, little is known about important outcomes such as treatment uptake and return for follow-up after pregnancy. The aim of this study was to examine pregnancy in African women living with HIV in the UK.
Methods and design: This was a two phase mixed methods study. The first phase involved analysis of data on approximately 12,000 pregnancies occurring between 2000 and 2010 reported to the UK's National Study of HIV in Pregnancy and Childhood (NSHPC). The second phase was based in London and comprised: (i) semi-structured interviews with 23 pregnant African women living with HIV, 4 health care professionals and 2 voluntary sector workers; (ii) approximately 90 hours of ethnographic fieldwork in an HIV charity; and (iii) approximately 40 hours of ethnographic fieldwork in a Pentecostal church.
Discussion: We have developed an innovative methodology utilising epidemiological and anthropological methods to explore pregnancy in African women living with HIV in the UK. The data collected in this mixed methods study are currently being analysed and will facilitate the development of appropriate services for this group.