Open Access Highly Accessed Study protocol

The impact of African ethnicity and migration on pregnancy in women living with HIV in the UK: design and methods

Shema Tariq1*, Alex Pillen2, Pat A Tookey3, Alison E Brown4 and Jonathan Elford1

Author Affiliations

1 School of Health Sciences, City University London, 20 Bartholomew Close, London, EC1A 7QN, United Kingdom

2 Department of Anthropology, University College London, 14 Taviton Street, London, WC1H 0BW, United Kingdom

3 MRC Centre of Epidemiology for Child Health, UCL Institute of Child Health, 30 Guilford St, London, WC1N 1EH, United Kingdom

4 HIV & STI Department, Health Protection Services - Colindale, Health Protection Agency, 61 Colindale Avenue, London, NW9 5EQ, United Kingdom

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BMC Public Health 2012, 12:596  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-12-596

Published: 2 August 2012



The number of reported pregnancies in women with diagnosed HIV in the UK increased from 80 in 1990 to over 1400 in 2010; the majority were among women born in sub-Saharan Africa. There is a paucity of research on how social adversity impacts upon pregnancy in HIV positive women in the UK; furthermore, little is known about important outcomes such as treatment uptake and return for follow-up after pregnancy. The aim of this study was to examine pregnancy in African women living with HIV in the UK.

Methods and design

This was a two phase mixed methods study. The first phase involved analysis of data on approximately 12,000 pregnancies occurring between 2000 and 2010 reported to the UK’s National Study of HIV in Pregnancy and Childhood (NSHPC). The second phase was based in London and comprised: (i) semi-structured interviews with 23 pregnant African women living with HIV, 4 health care professionals and 2 voluntary sector workers; (ii) approximately 90 hours of ethnographic fieldwork in an HIV charity; and (iii) approximately 40 hours of ethnographic fieldwork in a Pentecostal church.


We have developed an innovative methodology utilising epidemiological and anthropological methods to explore pregnancy in African women living with HIV in the UK. The data collected in this mixed methods study are currently being analysed and will facilitate the development of appropriate services for this group.

HIV; Pregnancy; Migrants; Ethnicity; Mixed methods research