Obstacles Facing Mothers with HIV

Around 7,000 infants are born each year testing positive for HIV ( Navpravniks, Roycel, Walter, Lim 2000), it has been argued that many of these cases could be potentially avoided through adequate prenatal care. Medical care has made leaps and bounds when it comes to the prevention of vertical transmission of HIV from mother to infant. There are however a number of social issues that prevent mothers with HIV from seeking assistance or lead them to seek it late in their pregnancies. This is a serious issue considering that HIV positive mothers who do not receive adequate prenatal care have a 15 to 25% chance of passing on the infection to their child, that number is decreased by an impressive 67.5% with adequate prenatal care (Navpravniks, Roycel, Walter, Lim, 2000).
The study I looked at, “HIV-1 Infected Women and Prenatal Care Utilization: Barriers and Facilitators”, gives us a glimpse into the lives of pregnant women with HIV and what obstacles they face when entering the health care system. It is no surprise that many of the issues women with HIV face when seeking prenatal care are psychological. In the study it was found that many of these women live in poverty and their pregnancies are unexpected and unplanned. Unplanned pregnancy can often go unnoticed, especially if the woman is preoccupied with other issues such as finding adequate housing, food or drugs. Once women do discover they are pregnant it can result in extreme levels of fear and sadness as women try to cope with supporting themselves and an infant as well as the possibility they will pass on HIV. Other issues are fear of discrimination in the hospital setting as well as having to admit illicit activities and reporting their HIV status. In this study all the women suffered from extreme depression.
Although there are many reasons that infected women do not seek care there are a number of reasons they do. First, pregnancy is a life-changing event in a women’s life, many women saw it as an awakening and a reason to pick up the pieces because of their “love for another human being” (Navpravniks, Roycel, Walter, Lim 2000). Second, the fear of passing on the infection is enough motivation for many women to seek out care. Third, what happens in the interaction between patient and doctor can make a big difference in the mother’s participation and ultimately the infant’s life. Adequate support, positive information and communication as well as assistance in transportation and care costs showed to raise the level of participation among infected mothers.
This study’s findings are important in that they show that making care available is simply not enough. Suppliers of prenatal care need to take into account the many psychological issues these women face due to poverty, drug use, HIV and pregnancy. From this study is appears that the level of support, positive communication and transportation/cost assistance are services providers should take into account when trying to reach out to HIV infected mothers.

Written by: Madelyn King
Napravniks, S., Roycel, R., Walter, E., Lim, W. (2000). HIV-1 Infected Women and Prenatal Care Utilization: Barriers and Facilitators. Aid Patient Care and STDs, Vol. 14; 8. Mary Ann Liebert Inc.


~ by littlegoose08 on September 6, 2009.

2 Responses to “Obstacles Facing Mothers with HIV”

  1. I have very mixed feelings about parents who are HIV+ having children with the risk of passing it on. I realize you can’t stop someone from having a baby, but they should be advised not to do so. I’m not sure if I’m the only one who feels this way, but it doesn’t make sense for a parent(s) to put a child at risk for such a painful and deadly disease. I just don’t understand. I know prematurity, heart problems, and other health issues can arise for newborns no matter what the parents do (even if they do follow all the guidelines), but why purposefully bring a child into this world knowing it could die as soon as it’s born?

    I’m not saying people with HIV/AIDS are bad people – I’m not saying that at all. And I’m not saying they shouldn’t be allowed to have children (there’s always adoption). But what I am saying is that those people should think twice about the possibility of putting their child through the same painful things they’ve gone through.

  2. Marissa Hayes (comment above)

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