Objectives. This survey of members of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) was initiated by the AAP Committee on Pediatric AIDS to assess the knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors of pediatricians regarding prenatal and neonatal screening as a means to reduce mother-to-child transmission of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).
Methods. The survey consisted of a 4-page, self-administered questionnaire, which was mailed to a random sample of 1647 active US members of the AAP. The original and 5 subsequent mailings to nonresponders were conducted from July to November 2001.
Results. Completed questionnaires were received from 982 pediatricians, for a response rate of 59.6%. Nearly all pediatricians (96.6%) agree on the importance of knowing the HIV status of pregnant women, and more than three-fourths (78.5%) do not think that HIV screening during pregnancy or postpartum should be limited to women with perceived risk for infection. Approximately 6 (58.5%) of 10 pediatricians indicate that they counsel or provide education on HIV screening to pregnant women or mothers of newborns whose HIV status is unknown; 41.5% do not. Pediatricians reported evaluating an average of 56 newborns each during the 3 months before the survey. The HIV infection status of the mother was unknown for 40.6% of these cases. During the same time period, pediatricians said that they discussed a newborn or maternal HIV screening test with only 10.4% of the mothers whose HIV infection status was unknown. Reasons given for not counseling mothers with unknown HIV infection status about maternal and/or newborn screening for HIV included low prevalence of HIV in the pediatrician’s practice area (65.4%), assessment by the pediatrician that the parents did not fit the profile of those “at risk” for HIV infection (56.1%), fear of offending the parents (50.2%), parental lack of understanding regarding the importance of screening (50.1%), and lack of sufficient time for counseling (44.4%).
Conclusions. Pediatricians exhibit a high degree of understanding of the importance of HIV screening as a means to reduce mother-to-child transmission of HIV, but this does not always translate into their clinical practices.
- Received February 18, 2003.
- Accepted July 8, 2003.
- Copyright © 2003 by the American Academy of Pediatrics