OBJECTIVE: To assess obstetricians' antenatal screening practice for blood-borne viruses (HIV, hepatitis B and C viruses [HBV and HCV]) and knowledge about management during labour and risk of transmission via breastfeeding for infected women after an educational intervention, Australia.
DESIGN: Cohort study, with surveys before and after an educational intervention.
SETTING AND PARTICIPANTS: Survey 1 was mailed in 2002-2003 to all 767 Fellows registered with the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RANZCOG), and Survey 2 was mailed in 2004 to the 743 of these Fellows who were still practising.
INTERVENTION: Multifaceted intervention with mail-out of survey results and a summary of recommended management, publication of two review articles in the RANZCOG journal, and an oral presentation at the RANZCOG annual scientific meeting.
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Self-reported frequency of antenatal screening for blood-borne viruses, change in practice based on a woman’s infection status, and advice given about risk of virus transmission via breastfeeding in Survey 2, compared with Survey 1.
RESULTS: Survey 2 (response rate, 68%) found increases from the previous survey in the proportion of respondents reporting they always offered antenatal screening for HIV, from 51% to 59%, and for HCV, from 60% to 69% (P = 0.001 for both). For women with HIV infection, the proportion of respondents always recommending elective caesarean section increased from 37% to 49% (P = 0.001) and always avoiding rupture of membranes increased from 33% to 49% (P < 0.001). The proportion who reported advising (incorrectly) that breastfeeding is associated with increased risk of transmission to the infant decreased from 34% to 25% for HBV (P = 0.01) and from 47% to 39% for HCV (P = 0.03).
CONCLUSION: The frequency of antenatal testing for HIV and HCV is increasing in Australia. Knowledge about interventions to reduce mother-to-child transmission of HIV and knowledge of the risk of HBV and HCV transmission via breastfeeding improved after a relatively simple educational intervention.