HIV Prevalence in Pregnant Women in Europe: Differences in Assessment Methods and Prevalence Levels Across Countries

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Abstract

Objective:

To describe methods used to assess HIV prevalence and to assess prevalence levels and time trends among pregnant women in various European countries.

Methods:

We used the European HIV Prevalence Database to examine annual HIV prevalence data in pregnant women for the years 1990 to 1996 (20 countries).

Results:

In Western Europe, prevalences were generally obtained through unlinked anonymous surveys, whereas in most Central, and Eastern European countries, they were based on testing programs (voluntary or mandatory). Prevalences (per 10,000) were highest (i.e., 10-30/10,000) in large western urban areas including Amsterdam, Barcelona, London, Milan, Paris, and Rome; between 1 and 2 in Scandinavian countries; and down to 0.5/10,000 in Central and Eastern European countries (except Ukraine, 1996: 5/10,000). Prevalences decreased in Rome, whereas they increased in London, the Czech Republic, and since 1995 in Russia and Ukraine; elsewhere, no time trends were detected.

Conclusions:

Methodologic differences and potential biases should be considered when comparing these data. HIV prevalence in pregnant women is useful for monitoring the AIDS epidemic and for assessing and improving prevention. Efforts should be made to offer voluntary counseling and testing to women at risk for HIV and provide treatment to those who are infected.

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