HIV incidence among pregnant and postpartum women in a high prevalence setting

PLoS One. 2018 Dec 28;13(12):e0209782. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0209782. eCollection 2018.


In sub-Saharan Africa, most women who test HIV negative at the first antenatal care encounter are rarely tested again during pregnancy and postpartum, yet data suggests that pregnancy is associated with increased risk of HIV acquisition compared to non-pregnant women. We describe HIV incidence during pregnancy and postpartum in Lesotho, a high prevalence setting, and factors associated with HIV seroconversion. We enrolled a cohort of HIV negative women presenting at health facilities for antenatal care and followed them through delivery up to 24 months postpartum. Women were repeatedly tested for HIV according to the Lesotho Ministry of Health routine rapid HIV testing guidelines and responded to risk behavior questionnaire every three months. We estimated HIV incidence and associated 95% confidence intervals. We used mixed effects Cox regression models to identify independent factors associated with seroconversion accounting for repeated assessment. The estimated overall HIV incidence rate was 1.58 (95% CI: 1.05-2.28) per 100 person- years. The estimated HIV incidence rate during pregnancy (2.61 per 100 person-years, 95% CI: 1.12-5.14) was almost double the estimated HIV incidence during postpartum (1.36 per 100 person-years, 95% CI: 0.83-2.10). Women's age (14-24 years compared to 25-45 years), multiple sexual partnerships, urethral discharge and no condoms nor pre-exposure prophylaxis were independently associated with HIV infection. There is an increased need for counseling and support of HIV-uninfected pregnant and breastfeeding women to stay HIV-negative, including provision of pre-exposure prophylaxis during this high-risk period, particularly among adolescent and young women.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / epidemiology*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Postpartum Period
  • Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis / statistics & numerical data
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications, Infectious / epidemiology
  • Prevalence
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Young Adult

Grants and funding

This work was funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the generous support of the American people through USAID Cooperative Agreement No. AID-674-A-16-00005 (AT).