n South African Medical Journal - The influence of HIV status on prenatal genetic diagnosis choices : Festschrift : Professor Trefor Jenkins - ethical, psychosocial and anthropological

Volume 103, Issue 12
  • ISSN : 0256-9574
  • E-ISSN: 2078-5135



At-risk women of advanced maternal age (AMA) can choose to have second-trimester invasive testing for a prenatal genetic diagnosis on the foetus. Being HIV-positive can complicate the decision-making process.

To document HIV status and prenatal genetic diagnosis choices in women of AMA attending genetic clinics in Johannesburg, South Africa, for counselling on the risks of abnormalities in their foetuses.
Data on the characteristics of the sample, HIV status and prenatal diagnosis decisions were collected retrospectively from the files of 350 women (>34 years) counselled for AMA in genetic clinics in Johannesburg and Pretoria. The time period was 6 months in 2003 and 6 months in 2004. A sample of the women (=15) who were HIV-positive were interviewed and completed questionnaires on their understanding of their situation. The data were analysed and submitted to statistical testing.
Of the 350 women, 183 (52.3%) were HIV-negative, 44 (12.6%) HIV-positive, and 123 (35.1%) of unknown status. Significantly more HIV-negative patients (79/183, 43.2%) than those who were HIV-positive (6/44, 13.6%) had amniocentesis performed for foetal diagnosis. Most of the interviewed women (12/15, 80.0%) understood the severity of HIV infection, 5 (33.3%) considered termination of pregnancy based on the transmission risk, and 4 (26.7%) would have requested amniocentesis and prenatal diagnosis if they had been HIV-negative.
Decision-making regarding prenatal genetic diagnosis is influenced by HIV status among older women. Effective access to highly active antiretroviral therapy throughout pregnancy would make decision-making easier for these women.

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