HIV-infected mothers’ perceptions of uncertainty, stress, depression and social support during HIV viral testing of their infants

  • Maureen ShannonEmail author
  • Kathryn A. Lee
Original Contribution


To explore relationships between mothers’ uncertainty about infant HIV serostatus with stress, distress, depressive symptoms, and social support during infant HIV testing. This prospective longitudinal study of 20 HIV-infected mothers involved a prenatal visit and five postpartum visits clustered around infant HIV viral testing. Maternal uncertainty about infant HIV serostatus significantly decreased over time (p < 0.001). Before testing, uncertainty was inversely related to social support (r = −0.67), and positively related to perceived stress (r = 0.54), interpersonal social conflict (r = 0.57), symptom distress (r = 0.62), and depressive symptoms (r = 0.50); these relationships persisted throughout the infant testing period. Mothers with depressive symptoms during pregnancy demonstrated significantly more uncertainty within a few weeks after birth than mothers without depressive symptoms (p < 0.05). Several weeks after learning their infants were HIV negative, mothers’ uncertainty was only associated with social conflict (r = 0.49). Maternal uncertainty about infant HIV status declined significantly over time. There were no changes in perceptions of stress, distress or social support. Mothers with depressive symptoms experienced greater uncertainty about infants’ HIV status. Strategies to enhance support and treat depressive symptoms may reduce the uncertainty, stress, and distress HIV-infected mothers experience during viral testing of their infants.


HIV-infected Postpartum Stress Depression Uncertainty 



The authors wish to thank Dr. Sheila Santacroce for permission to use the “Parental Perceptions of Uncertainty—Diagnosis” Scale and Dr. Virginia Tilden for permission to use the “Interpersonal Relationship Inventory” Scale for this study.

This research was funded in part by a National Research Service Award from the National Institute of Nursing Research (F31-NR008181), California University-wide AIDS Research Program dissertation award (D05-SF-403), and 2005 Woodrow Wilson and Johnson & Johnson Foundation Dissertation Award in Women’s Health.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Nursing and Dental HygieneUniversity of Hawaii at ManoaHonoluluUSA
  2. 2.Department of Family Health Care NursingUniversity of California, San FranciscoSan FranciscoUSA

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