BACKGROUND: Spain has the highest incidence rate of AIDS in Europe. Catalonia contributes with around 30% of the AIDS cases detected in Spain. From 1990 to 1994 the AIDS heterosexual transmission category increased from 9.6% to 14.6% in Catalonia. The objective of the study was to determine the HIV prevalence in a heterosexual population of pregnant women. SUBJECTS AND METHODS: Unlinked anonymous HIV screening by means of an agglutination assay and an enzyme immunoassay of eluates of dried blood spots from nearly half of the neonates born in Catalonia during 1994. RESULTS: HIV testing was done on 21,074 neonates. Overall HIV prevalence was 0.32% (95% Cl: 0.25-0.40). It varied from 0.45% in Barcelona, 0.38-0.29% in the health regions around Barcelona, to 0.20-0.09% in the rest. The mean age of HIV infected women was younger (27) than that of the seronegative ones (29) (p < 0.001). The highest prevalence was 0.61% in women aged 20-24 years. CONCLUSIONS: The HIV prevalence in the heterosexual population of pregnant women in Catalonia is among the highest in Europe. Preventive efforts must begin with schoolchildren and be directed to adolescents and young women. It is convenient that women who want to become pregnant and mothers receiving antenatal care have access to voluntary confidential HIV testing.
|Publication status||Published - 7 Feb 1998|