Asylum seekers are considered to be a particularly vulnerable group with respect to HIV. Data on the HIV prevalence among asylum seekers, however, are scarce. The aim of this study is to map the HIV prevalence among asylum seekers who gave birth in The Netherlands.
We used a nationwide electronic medical records database from the community health services for asylum seekers (MOA). The study population consisted of 4,854 women and girls who delivered in asylum reception between 2000 and 2008. A unique electronic health data base was used and case allocation was based on ICPC-codes.
The number of women and girls that was HIV positive during their last pregnancy was 80, of which 79 originated fromsub-Saharan Africa. The prevalence for women from this region of origin (3.4%) was high compared to women from all other regions of origin (0.04%; OR = 90.2; 95% CI 12.5-648.8). The highest HIV prevalence rates were found for women from Rwanda (17.0%) and Cameroon (13.2%). HIV prevalence rates were higher among women who arrived in reception without partner (OR = 1.82; 95% CI 0.75-4.44) and unaccompanied minors (OR = 2.59; 95% CI 0.79-8.49), compared to women who arrived in reception with partner.
We conclude that, among asylum-seeking women from sub-Saharan Africa giving birth in The Netherlands, the HIV prevalence is high compared to the host population. For women from other regions of origin, the prevalence is at the same level as in the host population. The high HIV prevalence underlines the importance of preventive interventions and voluntary HIV testing for sub-Saharan African asylum seekers as from shortly after arrival.