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Cadernos de Saúde Pública

On-line version ISSN 1678-4464Print version ISSN 0102-311X


BONCIANI, Rosa Dalva F.  and  SPINK, Mary Jane P.. Death by AIDS or maternal death: classification of mortality as a social practice. Cad. Saúde Pública [online]. 2003, vol.19, n.2, pp.645-652. ISSN 1678-4464.

This paper analyzes the decision on whether to include deaths of HIV+ pregnant women in the classification of maternal mortality. The study focuses on deaths of childbearing-age women in São Paulo in 1998, investigated by the State's Central Committee on Maternal Mortality (CCMM). Working from a social constructionist perspective, the research was based on documental analysis and interviews with the president of the CCMM and members of one regional committee. The analysis focused on the selection, investigation, and classification of maternal death, with special attention to the negotiation among various actors involved in the classificatory procedures. The data suggest that in the deaths of HIV+ women, other factors are present including the precedence of HIV status over maternal death and the moral and symbolic aspects of AIDS. The results suggest that improving data through a better understanding of decisions to include or exclude cases is only one side of the issue; it is also important to improve quality of care in pregnancy and childbirth in order to prevent maternal death.

Keywords : Maternal Mortality; Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome; HIV.

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