The contribution of HIV to fertility decline in rural Zimbabwe, 1985-2000

Popul Stud (Camb). 2003;57(2):149-64. doi: 10.1080/0032472032000097074.


HIV-related sub-fertility has been reported for those populations in sub-Saharan Africa in which contraceptive use is low. We use data from a retrospective survey in rural Zimbabwe and multivariate logistic regression models to show that recent birth rates and current pregnancy rates are also lower among HIV-positive women than among HIV-negative women in those African populations where contraceptive use is high. The fertility reduction is smaller than where contraceptive use is low because age at first sexual intercourse is later and birth rates at older ages are already low. Nevertheless, total fertility is approximately 8.5 per cent lower and HIV-associated sub-fertility may account for as much as one-quarter of fertility decline in Zimbabwe since the late 1980s. Mechanisms for HIV-associated sub-fertility in rural Zimbabwe include more frequent widowhood and divorce, reduced coital frequency, increased amenorrhoea, and possibly, pelvic inflammatory disease. Miscarriage appears to be a less important factor than elsewhere possibly because syphilis is rare.

Publication types

  • Historical Article

MeSH terms

  • Birth Rate / trends*
  • HIV*
  • History, 20th Century
  • History, 21st Century
  • Rural Population / history*
  • Zimbabwe