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HIV/AIDS awareness and risk behaviour among pregnant women in Semey, Kazakhstan, 2007

Emma Sandgren12, Sofia Sandgren12, Marat Urazalin2 and Rune Andersson13*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Infectious Diseases, Sahlgrenska Academy at Gothenburg University, Sweden

2 Semipalatinsk State Medical Academy, Semey, Kazakhstan

3 Research and Development Centre, Skaraborg Hospital, Skövde, Sweden

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BMC Public Health 2008, 8:295  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-8-295

Published: 22 August 2008



Central Asia has one of the most rapidly increasing HIV prevalence in the world. The aim of this study was to evaluate current knowledge, risk behaviour and attitudes to voluntary counselling and testing concerning HIV/AIDS among pregnant women in Semey, Kazakhstan.


We collected 226 questionnaires in a consecutive sample from a population on 520 pregnant women. The results were related to ethnicity, age and education level.


Ninety-six percent had heard about HIV.

Positive findings were that 89% and 86% of the women were aware of the two main routes of transmission: sexual intercourses without a condom and sharing needles while injecting drugs. The women had first heard about HIV/AIDS through the media with, 52%, and at school with 40%. Only 46% and 68% of the women pointed out breastfeeding and mother-to-child transmission during pregnancy or delivery as routes of transmission. Eighty-three percent were prepared not to breastfeed their baby if they were found to be HIV positive. Slightly more, 86%, accepted the need to take medicine, but fewer women, 68%, were positive to Caesarean section. Negative findings were that only 28% answered that there are ways to protect oneself against sexually transmitted HIV/AIDS and specified that this was condom use.


The pregnant women in Semey have poor knowledge about specific mother-to-child HIV transmission and do not know about the means of reducing mother-to-child HIV infection. The information in the public health program needs to be improved. However, most of the women in Semey were positive to prevention strategies for mother-to-child transmission after hearing about it.