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Open Access Research article

Number and timing of antenatal HIV testing: Evidence from a community-based study in Northern Vietnam

Nguyễn TT Hạnh1*, Tine M Gammeltoft2 and Vibeke Rasch34

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Population, Institute for Preventive Medicine and Public Health, Hanoi Medical University, No.1 Ton That Tung Street, Khuong Thuong, Dong Da, Hanoi, Vietnam

2 Department of Anthropology, University of Copenhagen, Øster Farimagsgade 5, DK-1353 Copenhagen K, Denmark

3 Department of International Health, Immunology and Microbiology, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Copenhagen, Øster Farimagsgade 5, DK-1014 Copenhagen, Denmark

4 Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Odense University Hospital, 5000 Odense C, Denmark

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BMC Public Health 2011, 11:183  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-11-183

Published: 25 March 2011

Abstract

Background

HIV testing for pregnant women is an important component for the success of prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV (PMTCT). A lack of antenatal HIV testing results in loss of benefits for HIV-infected mothers and their children. However, the provision of unnecessary repeat tests at a very late stage of pregnancy will reduce the beneficial effects of PMTCT and impose unnecessary costs for the individual woman as well as the health system. This study aims to assess the number and timing of antenatal HIV testing in a low-income setting where PMTCT programmes have been scaled up to reach first level health facilities.

Methods

A cross-sectional community-based study was conducted among 1108 recently delivered mothers through face-to-face interviews following a structured questionnaire that focused on socio-economic characteristics, experiences of antenatal care and HIV testing.

Results

The prevalence of women who lacked HIV testing among the study group was 10% while more than half of the women tested had had more than two tests during pregnancy. The following factors were associated with the lack of antenatal HIV test: having two children (aOR 2.1, 95% CI 1.3-3.4), living in a remote rural area (aOR 7.8, 95% CI 3.4-17.8), late antenatal care attendance (aOR 3.6, 95% CI 1.3-10.1) and not being informed about PMTCT at their first antenatal care visits (aOR 7.4, 95% CI 2.6-21.1). Among women who had multiple tests, 80% had the second test after 36 weeks of gestation. Women who had first ANC and first HIV testing at health facilities at primary level were more likely to be tested multiple times (OR 2.9 95% CI 1.9-4.3 and OR = 4.7 95% CI 3.5-6.4), respectively.

Conclusions

Not having an HIV test during pregnancy was associated with poor socio-economic characteristics among the women and with not receiving information about PMTCT at the first ANC visit. Multiple testing during pregnancy prevailed; the second tests were often provided at a late stage of gestation.