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Social acceptability of screening for hiv among pregnant women a survey in paris region france

Social acceptability of screening for hiv among pregnant women a survey in paris region france

Journal de Gynecologie Obstetrique et biologie de la Reproduction 18(4): 437-443

Current debate about screening strategies for HIV during pregnancy is not limited to clinical and epidemiologic arguments; ethical and social concerns about the risk of stigmatization against HIV carriers are also taken into account. Therefore, data on public preception of AIDS and attitudes toward preventive measures against the disease can be of interest. In December 1987, a survey was carried out, through personal interview, in a representative sample (900 individuals selected by the quota method) of the 10.5 million inhabitants of 18 years of age and over, in the Paris region. 9.8% of women declared having been tested for HIV, at least once, during 1987, and 20% of these tests were part of prenatal care. Mandatory screening for HIV among pregnant women is supported by 78.6% of respondents while only 64% support screening during premarital examinations and a minority (37,8%) is in favour of mandatory screening for the whole population. 48.5% of respondents share the misperception that transmission from mother to fetus always happens, and 70% think that women who are HIV carriers should renounce pregnancy: willingness to support mandatory screening for pregnant women is significatively higher among individuals who share these two beliefs. Socio-demographic variables and even religious and political beliefs strongly influence attitudes of respondents toward mandatory screening for HIV in different groups and for the whole population, attitudes about screening during pregnancy are the only exception because they are not related to socio-cultural status of respondents. Correspondence factor analysis of answers about prevention of AIDS even suggests that support for screening during pregnancy has a totally different meaning in public's view, than support for coercive measures such as quarantine against AIDS' patients. Social acceptability of systematic HIV screening during pregnancy appears to be high in the general public and does not seem to carry a great danger of stigmatization. However, public health decisions about systematisation of such screening must still rely on clinical and epidemiologic estimations and will be less controversial as soon as opportunities for fetal diagnosis and treatment against HIV infection will be available.

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