Alcohol consumption among HIV-positive pregnant women in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa : prevalence and correlates

Desmond, Katherine ; Milburn, Norweeta ; Richter, Linda ; Tomlinson, Mark ; Greco, Erin ; Van Heerden, Alastair ; Van Rooyen, Heidi ; Comulada, W. Scott ; Rotheram-Borus, Mary Jane (2012)

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Article

Background: HIV-positive pregnant women who drink put their children at risk of both HIV and fetal alcohol spectrum disorders. The province of KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) has the highest prevalence of HIV in South Africa, but has not before been considered an area of high alcohol consumption among women. This paper analyzes a large sample of HIV+ pregnant women in KZN to examine alcohol consumption in that population. Methods: Data came from assessments of women enrolled in Prevention of Mother-To-Child Transmission programs at 8 clinics in KZN. Descriptive statistics and logistic regressions were used to examine the prevalence and correlates of alcohol consumption and binge drinking. Results: Of 1201 women assessed, 18% reported drinking during pregnancy, and 67% of drinkers usually binged when drinking (had 3+ drinks in one sitting). Over one-third of drinkers binged twice a month or more. Women living in urban and peri-urban locations were more likely to drink, as were those with indicators of higher economic status and greater social engagement. Married women were less likely to drink, while women who had poorer mental health, used tobacco, or had a greater history of sexual risk-taking were more likely to drink. Conclusion: Health care workers in KZN should be aware that pregnant women who drink are likely to do so at a level that is dangerous for their babies. Some factors associated with drinking indicate social/environmental influences that need to be counteracted by greater dissemination of information about the dangers of drinking, and greater support for abstinence or moderation.

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