Preventing unintended pregnancy among HIV-positive women constitutes a critical and cost-effective approach to primary prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV and is a global public health priority for addressing the desperate state of maternal and child health in HIV hyper-endemic settings. We sought to investigate whether the prevalence of contraceptive use and method preferences varied by HIV status and receipt of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) among women in Soweto, South Africa.
We used survey data from 563 sexually active, non-pregnant women (18–44 years) recruited from the Perinatal HIV Research Unit in Soweto (May–December, 2007); 171 women were HIV-positive and receiving HAART (median duration of use = 31 months; IQR = 28, 33), 178 were HIV-positive and HAART-naïve, and 214 were HIV-negative. Medical record review was conducted to confirm HIV status and clinical variables. Logistic regression models estimated adjusted associations between HIV status, receipt of HAART, and contraceptive use.
Overall, 78% of women reported using contraception, with significant variation by HIV status: 86% of HAART users, 82% of HAART-naïve women, and 69% of HIV-negative women (p<0.0001). In adjusted models, compared with HIV-negative women, women receiving HAART were significantly more likely to use contraception while HAART-naïve women were non-significantly more likely (AOR: 2.40; 95% CI: 1.25, 4.62 and AOR: 1.59; 95% CI: 0.88, 2.85; respectively). Among HIV-positive women, HAART users were non-significantly more likely to use contraception compared with HAART-naïve women (AOR: 1.55; 95% CI: 0.84, 2.88). Similar patterns held for specific use of barrier (primarily male condoms), permanent, and dual protection contraceptive methods.
Among HIV-positive women receiving HAART, the observed higher prevalence of contraceptive use overall and condoms in particular promises to yield fewer unintended pregnancies and reduced risks of vertical and sexual HIV transmission. These findings highlight the potential of integrated HIV and reproductive health services to positively impact maternal, partner, and child health.
Like all women, women living with and at risk of acquiring HIV have the right to determine the number and timing of their pregnancies and to safely achieve their reproductive intentions. Yet, many women in Asia affected by HIV lack access to family planning services and experience disproportionately high rates of unintended pregnancy and abortion. Programs that have succeeded in promoting condom use and providing HIV prevention and treatment services in this region have largely missed the opportunity to address the contraceptive needs of the key populations they serve. The importance of better linkages between family planning and HIV policies and programs is now widely recognized by global health policymakers and donors. However, to date, most of the efforts to improve these linkages have been conducted in Africa. Greater attention is needed to the developing, implementing, and evaluating of integrated family planning/HIV approaches that are tailored to the political, cultural, and public health context in Asia. In this paper, we describe the use of and need for family planning among key populations affected by HIV in Asia, discuss the challenges to effectively addressing of these needs, and offer recommendations for strengthening the linkages between family planning and HIV policies and programs in the region.
The prevention of unintended pregnancies among HIV positive women is a neglected strategy in the fight against HIV/AIDS. Women who want to avoid unintended pregnancies can do this by using a modern contraceptive method. Contraceptive choice, in particular the use of long acting and permanent methods (LAPMs), is poorly understood among HIV-positive women. This study aimed to compare factors that influence women's choice in contraception and women's knowledge and attitudes towards the IUD and female sterilization by HIV-status in a high HIV prevalence setting, Cape Town, South Africa.
A quantitative cross-sectional survey was conducted using an interviewer-administered questionnaire amongst 265 HIV positive and 273 HIV-negative postpartum women in Cape Town. Contraceptive use, reproductive history and the future fertility intentions of postpartum women were compared using chi-squared tests, Wilcoxon rank-sum and Fisher's exact tests where appropriate. Women's knowledge and attitudes towards long acting and permanent methods as well as factors that influence women's choice in contraception were examined.
The majority of women reported that their most recent pregnancy was unplanned (61.6% HIV positive and 63.2% HIV negative). Current use of contraception was high with no difference by HIV status (89.8% HIV positive and 89% HIV negative). Most women were using short acting methods, primarily the 3-monthly injectable (Depo Provera). Method convenience and health care provider recommendations were found to most commonly influence method choice. A small percentage of women (6.44%) were using long acting and permanent methods, all of whom were using sterilization; however, it was found that poor knowledge regarding LAPMs is likely to be contributing to the poor uptake of these methods.
Improving contraceptive counselling to include LAPM and strengthening services for these methods are warranted in this setting for all women regardless of HIV status. These study results confirm that strategies focusing on increasing users' knowledge about LAPM are needed to encourage uptake of these methods and to meet women's needs for an expanded range of contraceptives which will aid in preventing unintended pregnancies. Given that HIV positive women were found to be more favourable to future use of the IUD it is possible that there may be more uptake of the IUD amongst these women.
PMTCT; Contraception; Fertility intentions; Unintended pregnancies; HIV; IUD; Female sterilization
Background. Preventing unintended pregnancy in HIV-positive women can significantly reduce maternal-to-child HIV transmission as well as improve the woman's overall health. Hormonal contraceptives are safe and effective means to avoid unintended pregnancy, but there is concern that coadministration of antiretroviral drugs may alter contraceptive efficacy. Materials and Methods. We performed a literature search of PubMed and Ovid databases of articles published between January 1980 and February 2012 to identify English-language reports of drug-drug interactions between hormonal contraceptives (HCs) and antiretroviral drugs (ARVs). We also reviewed the FDA prescribing information of contraceptive hormone preparations and antiretrovirals for additional data and recommendations. Results. Twenty peer-reviewed publications and 42 pharmaceutical package labels were reviewed. Several studies of combined oral contraceptive pills (COCs) identified decreased serum estrogen and progestin levels when coadministered with certain ARVs. The contraceptive efficacy of injectable depot medroxyprogesterone acetate (DMPA) and the levonorgestrel intrauterine system (LNG-IUS) were largely unaffected by ARVs, while data on the contraceptive patch, ring, and implant were lacking. Conclusions. HIV-positive women should be offered a full range of hormonal contraceptive options, with conscientious counseling about possible reduced efficacy of COCs and the contraceptive implant when taken with ARVs. DMPA and the LNG-IUS maintain their contraceptive efficacy when taken with ARVs.
Background. Preventing unintended pregnancies among women living with HIV is an important component of prevention of mother-to-child HIV transmission (PMTCT), yet few data exist on contraceptive use among women entering HIV care. Methods. This was a retrospective study of electronic medical records from the initial HIV clinic visits of 826 sexually active, nonpregnant, 18–49-year old women in southwestern Uganda in 2009. We examined whether contraceptive use was associated with HIV status disclosure to one's spouse. Results. The proportion reporting use of contraception was 27.8%. The most common method used was injectable hormones (51.7%), followed by condoms (29.6%), and oral contraceptives (8.7%). In multivariable analysis, the odds of contraceptive use were significantly higher among women reporting secondary education, higher income, three or more children, and younger age. There were no significant independent associations between contraceptive use and HIV status disclosure to spouse. Discussion. Contraceptive use among HIV-positive females enrolling into HIV care in southwestern Uganda was low. Our results suggest that increased emphasis should be given to increase the contraception uptake for all women especially those with lower education and income. HIV clinics may be prime sites for contraception education and service delivery integration.
Voluntary contraceptive use by HIV-positive women currently prevents more HIV-positive births, at a lower cost, than anti-retroviral drug (ARV) regimens. Despite this evidence, most prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) programs focus solely on providing ARV prophylaxis to pregnant women and rarely include the prevention of unintended pregnancies among HIV-positive women.
To strengthen support for family planning as HIV prevention, we systematically identified key individuals in the field of international HIV/AIDS—those who could potentially influence the issue—and sought to determine their perceptions of barriers to and facilitators for implementing this PMTCT strategy. We used a criteria-based approach to determine which HIV/AIDS stakeholders have the most significant impact on HIV/AIDS research, programs, funding and policy and stratified purposive sampling to conduct interviews with a subset of these individuals. The interview findings pointed to obstacles to strengthening linkages between family planning and HIV/AIDS, including the need for: resources to integrate family planning and HIV services, infrastructure or capacity to provide integrated services at the facility level, national leadership and coordination, and targeted advocacy to key decision-makers.
The individuals we identified as having regional or international influence in the field of HIV/AIDS have the ability to leverage an increasingly conducive funding environment and a growing evidence base to address the policy, programmatic and operational challenges to integrating family planning with HIV/AIDS. Fostering greater support for implementing contraception for HIV prevention will require the dedication, collaboration and coordination of many such actors. Our findings can inform a targeted advocacy campaign.
For HIV-1 infected women, hormonal contraception prevents unintended pregnancy, excess maternal morbidity, and vertical HIV-1 transmission. Hormonal contraceptives are widely used but their effects on HIV-1 disease progression are unclear.
In a prospective study among 2269 chronically HIV-1 infected women from 7 countries in East and southern Africa and with enrollment CD4 counts ≥250 cells/mm3, we compared rates of HIV-1 disease progression among those using and not using hormonal contraception (i.e. oral or injectable methods). The primary outcome was a composite endpoint of CD4 decline to <200 cells/mm3, initiation of antiretroviral therapy, or death.
372 women experienced HIV-1 disease progression during 3242 years of follow up (incidence rate=11.5 events per 100 person-years). Rates of HIV-1 disease progression among women who were currently using and not using hormonal contraception were 8.54 and 12.31 per 100 person-years, respectively (adjusted hazard ratio [HR] 0.74, 95% CI 0.56–0.98, p=0.04). Rates were 8.58 and 8.39 per 100 person-years for the subsets using injectable and oral contraception (adjusted HR=0.72, p=0.04 for injectable users and adjusted HR=0.83, p=0.5 for oral users compared to women not using hormonal contraception). Sensitivity analyses assessing enrollment or cumulative contraceptive use during the study demonstrated risk estimates closer to 1.0 with no evidence for accelerated disease progression.
Among African women with chronic HIV-1 infection, use of hormonal contraception was not associated with deleterious consequences for HIV-1 disease progression.
HIV-1; women; hormonal contraception; death; CD4 count; antiretroviral therapy
HIV discordant heterosexual couples are faced with the dual challenge of preventing sexual HIV transmission and unplanned pregnancies with the attendant risk of perinatal HIV transmission. Our aim was to examine uptake of two long-acting reversible contraceptive (LARC) methods – intrauterine devices (IUDs) and hormonal implants – among HIV discordant couples in Rwanda and Zambia.
Women were interviewed alone or with their partner during routine cohort study follow-up visits to ascertain fertility goals; those not pregnant, not infertile, not already using LARC, and wishing to limit or delay fertility for ≥3 years were counseled on LARC methods and offered an IUD and implant on-site.
Among 409 fertile Rwandan women interviewed (126 alone, 283 with partners), 365 (89%) were counseled about LARC methods and 130 (36%) adopted a method (100 implant, 30 IUD). Of 787 fertile Zambian women interviewed (457 alone, 330 with partners), 528 (67%) received LARC counseling, of whom 177 (34%) adopted a method (139 implant, 38 IUD). In both countries, a woman’s younger age was predictive of LARC uptake. LARC users reported fewer episodes of unprotected sex than couples using only condoms.
Integrated fertility-goal based family planning counseling and access to LARC methods with reinforcement of dual-method use prompted uptake of IUDs and implants and reduced unprotected sex among HIV-discordant couples in two African capital cities.
contraception; family planning; HIV; intrauterine devices; implant
As life expectancy for HIV-infected persons improves, studies in sub-Saharan Africa show that a considerable proportion of HIV-positive women and men desire to have children in the future. Integrating sexual and reproductive health care into HIV services has emphasized the right of women to make informed choices about their reproductive lives and the right of self-determination to reproduce, but this is often equated with avoidance of pregnancy. Here, we explore guidance and attention to safer conception for HIV-infected women and men and find this right lacking. Current sexual and reproductive health guidelines are not proactive in supporting HIV-positive people desiring children, and are particularly silent about the fertility needs of HIV-infected men and uninfected men in discordant partnerships. Public health policymakers and providers need to engage the HIV-infected and uninfected to determine both the demand and how best to address the need for safer conception services.
HIV infection; HIV-positive women and men; fertility; parenting; reproductive policy and services; contraception
Sexual behavior of HIV-positive youths, whether infected perinatally, through risky behavior or other ways, is not substantially different from that of HIV-uninfected peers. Because of highly active antiretroviral therapy, increasing number of children, infected perinatally, are surviving into adolescence and are becoming sexually active and need reproductive health services. The objective of this article is to review the methods of contraception appropriate for HIV-positive adolescents with a special focus on hormonal contraceptives. Delaying the start of sexual life and the use of two methods thereafter, one of which is the male condom and the other a highly effective contraceptive method such as hormonal contraception or an intrauterine device, is currently the most effective option for those who desire simultaneous protection from both pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. Health care providers should be aware of the possible pharmacokinetic interactions between hormonal contraception and antiretrovirals. There is an urgent need for more information regarding metabolic outcomes of hormonal contraceptives, especially the effect of injectable progestins on bone metabolism, in HIV-positive adolescent girls.
In settings where sexually transmitted infection (STI) and HIV prevalence is high, the postpartum period is a time of increased biological susceptibility to pregnancy related sepsis. Enabling women living with HIV to avoid unintended pregnancies during the postpartum period can reduce vertical transmission and maternal mortality associated with HIV infection. We describe family planning (FP) practices and fertility desires of HIV-positive and HIV-negative postpartum women in Swaziland.
Data are drawn from a baseline survey of a four-year multi country prospective cohort study under the Integra Initiative, which is measuring the benefits and costs of providing integrated HIV and sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services in Kenya and Swaziland. We compare data from 386 HIV-positive women and 483 HIV-negative women recruited in Swaziland between February and August 2010. Data was collected on hand-held personal digital assistants (PDAs) covering fertility desires, mistimed or unwanted pregnancies and contraceptive use prior to their most recent pregnancy. Data were analysed using Stata 10.0. Descriptive statistics were conducted using the chi square test for categorical variables. Measures of effect were assessed using multivariate fixed effects logistic regression model accounting for clustering at facility level and the results are presented as adjusted odds ratios.
Majority (69.2%) of postpartum women reported that their most recent pregnancy was unintended with no differences between HIV-positive and HIV-negative women: OR: 0.96 (95% CI) (0.70, 1.32). Although, there were significant differences between HIV-positive and HIV-negative women who reported that their previous pregnancy was unwanted, (20.7% vs. 13.5%, p = 0.004), when adjusted this was not significant OR: 1.43 (0.92, 1.91). 47.2% of HIV-positive women said it was mistimed compared to 52.5%, OR: 0.79 (0.59, 1.06). 37.9% of all women said they do not want another child. Younger women were more likely to have unwanted pregnancies: OR: 1.12 (1.07, 1.12), while they were less likely to have mistimed births; OR: 0.82 (0.70, 0.97). Those with tertiary education were less likely to have unwanted or mistimed pregnancies OR: 0.30 (0.11, 0.86). Half of HIV-positive women and more than a third of HIV-negative women reported that they had been using a FP method when they became pregnant with no differences between the groups: OR: 1.61 (0.82,3.41). Only short-acting methods were available to these women before the most recent pregnancy; and available during the postpartum visit. One fifth of all women received an FP method during the current visit. Among the four fifths who did not receive a method 17.3% reported they were already using a method or were breastfeeding. HIV-positive women were more likely to have already started a method than HIV-negative women (20% vs. 15%, p = 0.089).
There are few differences overall between the experiences of both HIV-positive and negative women in terms of FP experiences, unintended pregnancy and services received during the early postpartum period in Swaziland. Women attending postpartum facilities are receiving satisfactory care. Access to a wider range of effective methods is urgently needed if high levels of unintended pregnancy are to be reduced among HIV-positive and HIV-negative women living in Swaziland.
Pregnancy; Fertility desires; Postpartum care; Family planning; HIV
Increased fertility rates in HIV-infected women receiving antiretroviral therapy (ART) have been attributed to improved immunological function; it is unknown to what extent the rise in pregnancy rates is due to unintended pregnancies.
Non-pregnant women ages 18–35 from four public-sector ART clinics in Johannesburg, South Africa, were enrolled into a prospective cohort and followed from August 2009–March 2011. Fertility intentions, contraception and pregnancy status were measured longitudinally at participants' routine ART clinic visits.
Of the 850 women enrolled, 822 (97%) had at least one follow-up visit and contributed 745.2 person-years (PY) at-risk for incident pregnancy. Overall, 170 pregnancies were detected in 161 women (incidence rate [IR]: 21.6/100 PY [95% confidence interval (CI): 18.5–25.2]). Of the 170 pregnancies, 105 (62%) were unplanned. Unmet need for contraception was 50% higher in women initiating ART in the past year as compared to women on ART>1 year (prevalence ratio 1.5 [95% CI: 1.1–2.0]); by two years post-ART initiation, nearly one quarter of women had at least one unplanned pregnancy. Cumulative incidence of pregnancy was equally high among recent ART initiators and ART experienced participants: 23.9% [95% CI: 16.4–34.1], 15.9% [12.0–20.8], and 21.0% [16.8–26.1] for women on ART 0–1 yr, >1 yr–2 yrs, and >2 yrs respectively (log-rank, p = 0.54). Eight hormonal contraceptive failures were detected [IR: 4.4 [95% CI: 2.2–8.9], 7/8 among women using injectable methods. Overall 47% (80/170) of pregnancies were not carried to term.
Rates of unintended pregnancies among women on ART are high, including women recently initiating ART with lower CD4 counts and higher viral loads. A substantial burden of pregnancy loss was observed. Integration of contraceptive services and counselling into ART care is necessary to reduce maternal and child health risks related to mistimed and unwanted pregnancies. Further research into injectable contraceptive failures on ART is warranted.
Countries facing high HIV prevalence often also experience high levels of fertility and low contraceptive use, suggesting high levels of unmet need for contraceptive services. In particular, the unique needs of couples with one or both partners HIV positive are largely missing from many current family planning efforts, which focus on the prevention of pregnancies in the absence of reduction of the risk of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
This article presents an examination of contraceptive method uptake among a cohort of HIV serodiscordant and concordant positive study participants in Zambia.
Baseline contraceptive use was low; however, exposure to a video-based intervention that provided information on contraceptive methods and modeled desirable future planning behaviors dramatically increased the uptake of modern contraceptive methods.
Including information on family planning in voluntary counseling and testing (VCT) services in addition to tailoring the delivery of family planning information to meet the needs and concerns of HIV-positive women or those with HIV-positive partners is an essential step in the delivery of services and prevention efforts to reduce the transmission of HIV. Family planning and HIV prevention programs should integrate counseling on dual method use, combining condoms for HIV/STI prevention with a long-acting contraceptive for added protection against unplanned pregnancy.
Contraception can reduce the dual burden of high fertility and high HIV prevalence in sub-Sahara Africa, but significant barriers remain regarding access and use. We describe factors associated with nonuse of contraception and with use of specific contraceptive methods in HIV positive and HIV negative Rwandan women. Data from 395 HIV-positive and 76 HIV-negative women who desired no pregnancy in the previous 6 months were analyzed using univariate and multivariate logistic regression models to identify clinical and demographic characteristics that predict contraceptive use. Differences in contraceptive methods used were dependent on marital/partner status, partner's knowledge of a woman's HIV status, and age. Overall, condoms, abstinence, and hormonal methods were the most used, though differences existed by HIV status. Less than 10% of women both HIV+ and HIV− used no contraception. Important differences exist between HIV-positive and HIV-negative women with regard to contraceptive method use that should be addressed by interventions seeking to improve contraceptive prevalence.
Unintended pregnancies lead to unsafe abortions, which are a leading cause of preventable maternal mortality among young women in Uganda. There is a discrepancy between the desire to prevent pregnancy and actual contraceptive use. Health care providers' perspectives on factors influencing contraceptive use and service provision to young people aged 15-24 in two rural districts in Uganda were explored.
Semi-structured questionnaires were used for face- to-face interviews with 102 providers of contraceptive service at public, private not-for-profit, and private for-profit health facilities in two rural districts in Uganda. Descriptive and inferential statistics were used in the analysis of data.
Providers identified service delivery, provider-focused, structural, and client-specific factors that influence contraceptive use among young people. Contraceptive use and provision to young people were constrained by sporadic contraceptive stocks, poor service organization, and the limited number of trained personnel, high costs, and unfriendly service. Most providers were not competent enough to provide long-acting methods. There were significant differences in providers' self-rated competence by facility type; private for-profit providers' competence was limited for most contraceptives. Providers had misconceptions about contraceptives, they had negative attitudes towards the provision of contraceptives to young people, and they imposed non-evidence-based age restrictions and consent requirements. Thus, most providers were not prepared or were hesitant to give young people contraceptives. Short-acting methods were, however, considered acceptable for young married women and those with children.
Provider, client, and health system factors restricted contraceptive provision and use for young people. Their contraceptive use prospects are dependent on provider behavior and health system improvements.
Contraceptives that are readily available and acceptable are required in many poorer countries to reduce population growth and in all countries to prevent maternal morbidity and mortality arising from unintended pregnancies. Most available methods use hormonal steroids or are variations of barrier methods. Reports from several fora over the last 12 years have emphasized the number of unwanted pregnancies and resultant abortions, which indicate an unmet need for safe, acceptable, and inexpensive contraceptive methods. This unmet need can be assuaged, in part, by development of new nonhormonal contraceptive methods. This Review addresses the contribution that the “omic” revolution can make to the identification of novel contraceptive targets, as well as the progress that has been made for different target molecules under development.
Improvements in life expectancy and quality of life for HIV-positive women coupled with reduced vertical transmission will likely lead numerous HIV-positive women to consider becoming pregnant. In order to clarify the demand, and aid with appropriate health services planning for this population, our study aims to assess the fertility desires and intentions of HIV-positive women of reproductive age living in Ontario, Canada.
A cross-sectional study with recruitment stratified to match the geographic distribution of HIV-positive women of reproductive age (18–52) living in Ontario was carried out. Women were recruited from 38 sites between October 2007 and April 2009 and invited to complete a 189-item self-administered survey entitled “The HIV Pregnancy Planning Questionnaire” designed to assess fertility desires, intentions and actions. Logistic regression models were fit to calculate unadjusted and adjusted odds ratios of significant predictors of fertility intentions. The median age of the 490 participating HIV-positive women was 38 (IQR, 32–43) and 61%, 52%, 47% and 74% were born outside of Canada, living in Toronto, of African ethnicity and currently on antiretroviral therapy, respectively. Of total respondents, 69% (95% CI, 64%–73%) desired to give birth and 57% (95% CI, 53%–62%) intended to give birth in the future. In the multivariable model, the significant predictors of fertility intentions were: younger age (age<40) (p<0.0001), African ethnicity (p<0.0001), living in Toronto (p = 0.002), and a lower number of lifetime births (p = 0.02).
The proportions of HIV-positive women of reproductive age living in Ontario desiring and intending pregnancy were higher than reported in earlier North American studies. Proportions were more similar to those reported from African populations. Healthcare providers and policy makers need to consider increasing services and support for pregnancy planning for HIV-positive women. This may be particularly significant in jurisdictions with high levels of African immigration.
With the advent of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART), women living with HIV can now enjoy longer lifespans in relative good health as well as the prospect of bearing children with an overwhelmingly low risk of vertical transmission. Thus, increasingly, seropositive women are now facing issues around longevity as well as those associated with fertility. The clinician caring for the HIV-infected woman must be alert to the gynecologic issues that are prevalent in this population. Among those faced by the gynecologist are menstrual abnormalities, lower genital tract neoplasia, sexually transmitted infections, the need for gynecologic surgery, and menopausal issues including osteopenia/osteoporosis. Contraception in HIV seropositive women presents unique management issues, because of the necessity for a dual role of prevention of both pregnancy and HIV transmission, the possible effect of birth control on HIV infection, and the interaction between birth control and HIV therapies. With ever increasing frequency, the gynecologist will be presented with the seropositive woman or couple who wishes to conceive. The purpose of this chapter is to review the current knowledge on the relationship between HIV infection and menstrual abnormalities, genital neoplasias, contraceptive options, surgical complications, and menopause with its associated disorders. Special considerations in the seropositive woman contemplating pregnancy will also be discussed. The treatment of pelvic infections is discussed elsewhere in this volume, and only changes in standard therapy because of concurrent HIV-infection will be discussed here.
Many people living with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa desire biological children. Implementation of HIV prevention strategies that support the reproductive goals of people living with HIV while minimizing HIV transmission risk to sexual partners and future children requires a comprehensive understanding of pregnancy in this population. We analyzed prospective cohort data to determine pregnancy incidence and predictors among HIV-positive women initiating antiretroviral therapy (ART) in a setting with high HIV prevalence and fertility.
Participants were enrolled in the Uganda AIDS Rural Treatment Outcomes (UARTO) cohort of HIV-positive individuals initiating ART in Mbarara. Bloodwork (including CD4 cells/mm3, HIV viral load) and questionnaires (including socio-demographics, health status, sexual behavior, partner dynamics, HIV history, and self-reported pregnancy) were completed at baseline and quarterly. Our analysis includes 351 HIV-positive women (18–49 years) who enrolled between 2005–2011. We measured pregnancy incidence by proximal and distal time relative to ART initiation and used multivariable Cox proportional hazards regression analysis (with repeated events) to identify baseline and time-dependent predictors of pregnancy post-ART initiation.
At baseline (pre-ART initiation), median age was 33 years [IQR: 27–37] and median prior livebirths was four [IQR: 2–6]. 38% were married with 61% reporting HIV-positive spouses. 73% of women had disclosed HIV status to a primary sexual partner. Median baseline CD4 was 137 cells/mm3 [IQR: 81–207]. At enrolment, 9.1% (31/342) reported current pregnancy. After ART initiation, 84 women experienced 105 pregnancies over 3.8 median years of follow-up, yielding a pregnancy incidence of 9.40 per 100 WYs. Three years post-ART initiation, cumulative probability of at least one pregnancy was 28% and independently associated with younger age (Adjusted Hazard Ratio (AHR): 0.89/year increase; 95%CI: 0.86–0.92) and HIV serostatus disclosure to primary sexual partner (AHR: 2.45; 95%CI: 1.29–4.63).
Nearly one-third of women became pregnant within three years of initiating ART, highlighting the need for integrated services to prevent unintended pregnancies and reduce periconception-related risks for HIV-infected women choosing to conceive. Association with younger age and disclosure suggests a role for early and couples-based safer conception counselling.
Preventing unintended pregnancies among HIV-positive women through family planning (FP) reduces pregnancy-related morbidity and mortality, decreases the number of pediatric HIV infections, and has also proven to be a cost-effective way to prevent mother-to-child HIV transmission. A key element of a comprehensive HIV prevention agenda, aimed at avoiding unintended pregnancies, is recognizing the attitudes towards FP among HIV-positive women and their spouse or partner. In this study, we analyze FP attitudes among HIV-infected pregnant women enrolled in a PMTCT clinical trial in Western Kenya.
Methods and Findings
Baseline data were collected on 522 HIV-positive pregnant women using structured questionnaires. Associations between demographic variables and the future intention to use FP were examined using Fisher's exact tests and permutation tests. Most participants (87%) indicated that they intended to use FP. However, only 8% indicated condoms as a preferred FP method, and 59% of current pregnancies were unintended. Factors associated with positive intentions to use FP were: marital status (p = 0.04), having talked to their spouse or partner about FP (p<0.001), perceived spouse or partner approval of FP (p<0.001), previous use of a FP method (p = 0.006), attitude toward the current pregnancy (p = 0.02), disclosure of a sexually transmitted infection (STI) diagnosis (p = 0.03) and ethnic group (p = 0.03).
A significant gap exists between future FP intentions and current FP practices. Support and approval by the spouse or partner are key elements of FP intentions. Counseling services should be offered to both members of a couple to increase FP use, especially given the high number of unplanned pregnancies among HIV-positive women. Condoms should be promoted as part of a dual use method for HIV and STI prevention and for contraception. Integration of individual and couple FP services into routine HIV care, treatment and support services is needed in order to avoid unintended pregnancies and to prevent mother-to-child HIV transmission.
Although the experiences of unintended pregnancies and poor birth outcomes among adolescents aged 15–19 years in the general population are well documented, there is limited understanding of the same among those who are living with HIV. This paper examines the factors associated with experiencing unintended pregnancies, poor birth outcomes, and post-partum contraceptive use among HIV-positive female adolescents in Kenya.
Data are from a cross-sectional study that captured information on pregnancy histories of HIV-positive female adolescents in four regions of Kenya: Coast, Nairobi, Nyanza and Rift Valley provinces. Study participants were identified through HIV and AIDS programs in the four regions. Out of a total of 797 female participants, 394 had ever been pregnant with 24% of them experiencing multiple pregnancies. Analysis entails the estimation of random-effects logit models.
Higher order pregnancies were just as likely to be unintended as lower order ones (odds ratios [OR]: 1.2; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.8–2.0) while pregnancies occurring within marital unions were significantly less likely to be unintended compared to those occurring outside such unions (OR: 0.1; 95% CI: 0.1–0.2). Higher order pregnancies were significantly more likely to result in poor outcomes compared to lower order ones (OR: 2.5; 95% CI: 1.6–4.0). In addition, pregnancies occurring within marital unions were significantly less likely to result in poor outcomes compared to those occurring outside such unions (OR: 0.3; 95% CI: 0.1–0.9). However, experiencing unintended pregnancy was not significantly associated with adverse birth outcomes (OR: 1.3; 95% CI: 0.5–3.3). There was also no significant difference in the likelihood of post-partum contraceptive use by whether the pregnancy was unintended (OR: 0.9; 95% CI: 0.5–1.5).
The experience of repeat unintended pregnancies among HIV-positive female adolescents in the sample is partly due to inconsistent use of contraception to prevent recurrence while poor birth outcomes among higher order pregnancies are partly due to abortion. This underscores the need for HIV and AIDS programs to provide appropriate sexual and reproductive health information and services to HIV-positive adolescent clients in order to reduce the risk of undesired reproductive health outcomes.
HIV-positive female adolescents; Unintended pregnancy; Poor birth outcomes; Post-partum contraceptive use; Kenya
HIV-infected women need highly effective contraception to reduce unintended pregnancies and mother-to-child HIV transmission. Previous studies report conflicting results regarding the effect of hormonal contraception (HC) on HIV disease progression.
HIV-infected women in Uganda and Zimbabwe were recruited immediately after seroconversion; CD4 testing and clinical exams were conducted quarterly. The study endpoint was time to AIDS (two successive CD4 ≤200 cells/mm3 or WHO advanced stage 3 or stage 4 disease). We used marginal structural Cox survival models to estimate the effect of cumulative exposure to depot-medroxyprogesterone acetate (DMPA) and oral contraceptives (OC) on time to AIDS.
303 HIV-infected women contributed 1,408 person-years (py). 111 women (37%) developed AIDS. Cumulative probability of AIDS was 50% at 7 years and did not vary by country. AIDS incidence was 6.6, 9.3 and 8.8 per 100py for DMPA, OC and non-hormonal users. Neither DMPA (adjusted hazard ratio (AHR) = 0.90; 95% CI 0.76-1.08) nor OCs (AHR =1.07; 95% CI 0.89-1.29) were associated with HIV disease progression. Alternative exposure definitions of HC use during the year prior to AIDS or at time of HIV infection produced similar results. STI symptoms were associated with faster progression while young age at HIV infection (18-24 years) was associated with slower progression. Adding baseline CD4 level and setpoint viral load to models did not change the HC results but subtype D infection became associated with disease progression.
Hormonal contraceptive use was not associated with more rapid HIV disease progression but older age, STI symptoms and subtype D infection were.
HIV; disease progression; hormonal contraception; family planning; women
Some people living with HIV/AIDS (PLHIV) want to have children while others want to prevent pregnancies; this calls for comprehensive services to address both needs. This study explored decisions to have or not to have children and contraceptive preferences among PLHIV at two clinics in Uganda.
This was a qualitative cross-sectional study. We conducted seventeen focus group discussions and 14 in-depth interviews with sexually active adult men and women and adolescent girls and boys, and eight key informant interviews with providers. Overall, 106 individuals participated in the interviews; including 84 clients through focus group discussions. Qualitative latent content analysis technique was used, guided by key study questions and objectives. A coding system was developed before the transcripts were examined. Codes were grouped into categories and then themes and subthemes further identified.
In terms of contraceptive preferences, clients had a wide range of preferences; whereas some did not like condoms, pills and injectables, others preferred these methods. Fears of complications were raised mainly about pills and injectables while cost of the methods was a major issue for the injectables, implants and intrauterine devices. Other than HIV sero-discordance and ill health (which was cited as transient), the decision to have children or not was largely influenced by socio-cultural factors. All adult men, women and adolescents noted the need to have children, preferably more than one. The major reasons for wanting more children for those who already had some were; the sex of the children (wanting to have both girls and boys and especially boys), desire for large families, pressure from family, and getting new partners. Providers were supportive of the decision to have children, especially for those who did not have any child at all, but some clients cited negative experiences with providers and information gaps for those who wanted to have children.
These findings show the need to expand family planning services for PLHIV to provide more contraceptive options and information as well as expand support for those who want to have children.
Family planning; Fertility; HIV; Contraception
Prenatal and postnatal polychlorinated biphenyl (PCBs) exposure has been associated with decrements in fetal and infant growth and development, although exposures during the preconception window have not been examined despite recent evidence suggesting that this window may correspond with the highest serum concentrations.
We assessed maternal serum PCB concentrations at two sensitive developmental windows in relation to birth weight.
Serum samples were collected from 99 women as they began trying to become pregnant (preconception) and after a positive pregnancy test (prenatal); 52 (53%) women gave birth and represent the study cohort. Using daily diaries, women recorded sexual intercourse, menstruation, and home pregnancy test results until pregnant or up to 12 menstrual cycles with intercourse during the estimated fertile window. With gas chromatography with electron capture, 76 PCB congeners were quantified (nanograms per gram serum) and subsequently categorized by purported biologic activity. Serum PCBs were log-transformed and entered both as continuous and categorized exposures along with birth weight (grams) and covariates [smoking (yes/no), height (inches), and infant sex (male/female)] into linear regression.
A substantial reduction in birth weight (grams) was observed for women in the highest versus the lowest tertile of preconception antiestrogenic PCB concentration (β = −429.3 g, p = 0.038) even after adjusting for covariates (β = −470.8, p = 0.04).
These data reflect the potential developmental toxicity of antiestrogenic PCBs, particularly during the sensitive preconception critical window among women with environmentally relevant chemical exposures, and underscore the importance of PCB congener–specific investigation.
birth weight; developmental toxicant; early origins of disease; endocrine disruptors; polychlorinated biphenyls; preconception
Biomedical HIV prevention trials enroll sexually active women at risk of HIV and often discontinue study product during pregnancy. We assessed risk factors for pregnancy and HIV acquisition, and the effect of pregnancy on time off study drug in HPTN 039.
1358 HIV negative, HSV-2 seropositive women from South Africa, Zambia, and Zimbabwe were enrolled and followed for up to 18 months.
228 pregnancies occurred; time off study drug due to pregnancy accounted for 4% of woman-years of follow-up among women. Being pregnant was not associated with increased HIV risk (hazard ratio [HR] 0.64 95% CI [0.23, 1.80], p=0.40). However, younger age was associated with increased risk for both pregnancy and HIV. There was no association between condom use as a sole contraceptive and reduced pregnancy incidence; hormonal contraception was not associated with increased HIV risk. Bacterial vaginosis at study entry was associated with increased HIV risk (HR 2.03, p=0.02).
Pregnancy resulted in only a small amount of woman-time off study drug. Young women are at high risk for HIV and are an appropriate population for HIV prevention trials but also have higher risk of pregnancy. Condom use was not associated with reduced incidence of pregnancy.
HIV prevention; prevention trials; pregnancy; contraception; Africa; HSV-2; HIV risk factors