To determine the prevalence of HIV infection among pregnant women in Newfoundland.
Anonymous unlinked seroprevalence study.
A total of 14911 women receiving prenatal care or undergoing an abortion, representing nearly all pregnancies in Newfoundland from Nov. 1, 1991, to Oct. 31, 1993.
HIV antibody status, as determined by enzyme immunoassay of leftover serum samples (initially obtained for routine screening) and confirmation of reactive samples by the Western blot technique, health region of residence, and age group.
Of the 14911 serum samples 13 were positive for HIV, for an overall crude prevalence rate of 1 per 1147 or 8.7 per 10000 pregnant women (95% confidence interval [CI] 4.7 to 14.9). Seven of the positive samples were from women residing in the Eastern Health Region of the province, for a crude prevalence rate of 1 per 376 or 26.6 per 10000 pregnant women (95% CI 10.7 to 54.8) for that region. All women found to be HIV positive were 15 to 29 years of age, the peak prevalence (20.8 per 10000 pregnant women [95% CI 9.5 to 39.4]) was observed among those 20 to 24 years.
The overall prevalence rate of 8.7 per 10 000 pregnant women in Newfoundland is the highest provincial rate recorded among those from similar studies in Canada. Although it may be concluded that there are an estimated 125 HIV-positive women of childbearing age in Newfoundland (95% CI 67 to 213), the age-adjusted estimate is 84 (95% CI 36 to 131). This study provides an independent confirmation of an outbreak of HIV infection among women in the Eastern Health Region of the province.