Introduction. The aim of this study is to determine pregnant women's knowledge regarding AIDS and to identify factors affecting their knowledge This information would provide some baseline data in designing health education measures for this target group.
Methods. A face-to-face interview was carried out on one-hundred pregnant women attending an urban antenatal clinic in Malaysia between October and November 1999.
Results. The mean age of the women was 27.8 years old (SD = 5.0, range 20 - 40 years). In general, these women had good knowledge of HIV and AIDS. More than 80% of them were aware of the main modes of HIV transmission. However, only half knew that HIV could be transmitted through breastfeeding. Sixty percent of women had the misconception that the virus could be acquired through blood donation. There was a lack of knowledge regarding the symptoms and the progression of AIDS. More than 90% of the women knew that AIDS is incurable. Three quarters of them were aware that early treatment can slow down the progression of the disease, but only 16% knew that maternal HIV transmission can be reduced by treatment. Good knowledge was positively correlated with higher level of education (p<0.05).
Discussion. Although health education programs in Malaysia have succeeded in educating pregnant women regarding AIDS in general, certain important information is still not being disseminated. Future health education should formulate targeted strategies to overcome this problem.