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SAMJ: South African Medical Journal

On-line version ISSN 2078-5135
Print version ISSN 0256-9574


BEE, J S; GLASS, M; KROMBERG, J G R  and  CHRISTIANSON, A L. The influence of HIV status on prenatal genetic diagnosis choices. SAMJ, S. Afr. med. j. [online]. 2013, vol.103, n.12, pp.1027-1031. ISSN 2078-5135.

BACKGROUND: At-risk women of advanced maternal age (AMA) can choose to have second-trimester invasive testing for a prenatal genetic diagnosis on the fetus. Being HIV-positive can complicate the decision-making process. OBJECTIVE: 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 fetuses. METHODS: 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 (n=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. RESULTS: 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 fetal 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. CONCLUSION: 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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