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Midwifery. 1997 Dec;13(4):216-20.

A review of the literature on prevention of early vertical transmission of the HIV virus.

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  • 1School of Nursing and Midwifery, University of Wolverhampton, Russels Hall Hospital, Dudley, West Midlands, UK.



To review the literature on early vertical transmission of the HIV virus and its possible prevention.


Databases were searched using the keywords HIV, AIDS, HIV transmission, vertical transmission, HIV pregnancy, HIV newborn, AIDS paediatric, HIV paediatric, HIV maternal, maternal immunity, HIV diagnosis. Two hundred and twenty-nine articles were generated and 41 were used in the review.


Factors which increase the risk of vertical transmission are: maternal drug misuse; maternal infection; malnutrition; and HIV viraemia. There are gaps in knowledge about the mechanisms and rates of transmission indicating further research is needed.


Prevention of early vertical transmission is very important; researchers need to standardise their research criteria when carrying out research so that conclusions are comparable. IMPLICATIONS FOR MIDWIFERY PRACTICE: To promote the health of women and their partners must be educated prior to conception and during pregnancy on family planning and healthy living; HIV positive women need counselling and support, and midwives must consider all unscreened pregnant women to be HIV positive.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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