AIDS Policy Center for Children, Youth and Families
Ms. Armstrong briefly reviewed the methodology used in APCCYF focus groups. Efforts were made to get geographic diversity, with representation from areas with high and moderately high incidence rates. Seven of the eight groups include women only; the other group includes men. Participants are of reproductive age and are sexually active. HIV-positive women, Hispanic women and those at high risk for drug and alcohol use are included and targeted for some of the groups. Ms. Armstrong highlighted the following preliminary findings, based on completion of five of the eight focus groups.
- When asked about availability and accessibility of HIV counseling and testing, most participants felt that knowing their HIV status could help them improve their own health and that of their child and partner. There appear to be some gender differences in this response, which will be further explored.
- There appears to be a complex set of factors that influence women's receipt of prenatal care, including current drug and alcohol use and past experience with health care providers. Participants are very concerned about their own health and that of their babies.
- The way in which HIV testing is conducted is very important. Participants told ''horror stories" about receiving HIV-positive results over the phone or not being informed in advance that they were being tested. Only a few found out they were infected with HIV during pregnancy. Others discovered their HIV status while seeking other medical care. Participants emphasized the emotional impact of such negative experiences.
- Among participants there is a great fear of HIV disclosure. They do not want to be labeled as HIV-infected. There is stigma and distrust as to how information might be used. Most participants did not trust the government in issues associated with HIV testing. Gender and partner issues were often discussed, with women participants worried about partner and family rejection, as well as partner violence.
State Activities Update
Joseph Kelly reported that in March 1998, as part of the APCCYF study, NASTAD sent a questionnaire to state health departments to update information on four areas of interest: (1) developments in new state legislative policy, regulation, and practice standards; (2) availability of trend/surveillance data on perinatal HIV transmission; (3) availability of follow-up evaluations/surveys on provider practices, HIV counseling and testing acceptance, and implementation of PHS guidelines; and (4) state contacts for further information.
Mr. Kelly also briefly highlighted new information on state legislation, noting that as of April 1, 1998, there was legislation pending in Delaware, Alabama,