Women identified with HIV at labor and delivery: Testing, disclosing and linking to care challenges

Mardge H. Cohen*, Yolanda Olszewski, Mayris P. Webber, Nancy Blaney, Patricia Garcia, Robert Maupin, Steven Nesheim, Denis Agniel, Susan P. Danner, Margaret A. Lampe, Marc Bulterys

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Objective: To determine if women with undocumented HIV status in late pregnancy or at labor and delivery who are rapidly tested and identified as HIV infected have high-risk behaviors and psychosocial obstacles hindering postpartum follow-up. Methods: Consenting participants (women with undocumented HIV status and ≥24 weeks gestational age (GA) and imminent delivery or ≥34 weeks GA) in 6 cities were rapidly tested and interviewed. HIV-positive women were offered follow-up. Results: From 2001-2005, 54 HIV-infected women were identified: median age 26 years; 91% African American; 11 (20%) lost custody of their infants; 30 (56%) knew they or their partner were HIV-infected, but had no antenatal HIV care; 25 met criteria for starting antiretroviral therapy. Comparison between 48 HIV-infected and 130 HIV-negative women, tested and interviewed at the same hospitals, showed HIV-infected women more likely to be African American (P < .01) and report no prenatal care (P < .001), use street drugs (P < .01), have unstable residency (P < .05), not live with the father of their infant (P < .001), and have children in foster care (P < .01). Sixteen women (30%) and 17 (31%) infants did not remain in follow-up study due to relocation, child protective custody, and psychosocial issues including frequent substance use. Conclusion: Over half of HIV-infected women knew they or their partner were infected with HIV, but did not initially disclose their status. Increased support services and substance abuse treatment are critical to facilitate better continuity of care for these socially marginalized women.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)568-576
Number of pages9
JournalMaternal and child health journal
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2008


  • HIV disclosure
  • HIV rapid testing
  • HIV testing at delivery
  • Perinatal care

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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