The Impact of Delivery in a Rural County on a Cohort of Women Living with HIV Infection and Their Infants

J Rural Health. 2019 Jun;35(3):319-329. doi: 10.1111/jrh.12312. Epub 2018 Jul 16.


Purpose: We sought to determine if infants born in rural counties had an increased risk of contracting HIV.

Methods: Data were obtained from the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control for all women living with HIV delivering from 2004 to 2014. In this retrospective cohort study, maternal and neonatal outcomes from urban and rural counties were compared. Binomial statistical analyses were conducted using Wilcoxon Rank Sum Tests, χ2 or Fisher's exact tests. Logistic regression analyses were performed to evaluate factors associated with perinatal HIV infection.

Findings: Six hundred and sixty-six women living with HIV had 868 pregnancies and delivered 885 infants; 17% (148) were born in rural counties. Eleven infants (1.2%) were diagnosed with perinatal HIV infection. The proportion of women taking antenatal antiretroviral therapy (ART) was similar between rural and urban counties (84% vs 87%; P = .3), but women in urban counties were more likely to have an HIV RNA viral load <40 copies/mL before delivery (32% vs 42%; P = .05). Factors associated with perinatal HIV infection were intra- and postpartum maternal HIV diagnosis (aOR 61.4 [95% CI: 6.7-562.5]; P < .001), parenteral drug use (aOR 7.5 [1.6-34.7]; P = .01), and preterm birth (<37 weeks gestation) (aOR 4.6 [1.2-17.8]; P = .3).

Conclusions: Delivery in a rural county was not associated with an increased risk of perinatal HIV transmission. Women delivering in rural counties taking ART were less likely to have HIV viral suppression, which is a risk factor for perinatal HIV infection.

Keywords: HIV; access to care; geography; perinatal infection; pregnancy.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cohort Studies
  • Delivery of Health Care / methods*
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / epidemiology
  • HIV Infections / therapy*
  • Health Services Accessibility / standards*
  • Health Services Accessibility / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Pregnancy
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Assessment / methods
  • Risk Factors
  • Rural Population / statistics & numerical data
  • Rural Population / trends*
  • South Carolina / epidemiology