The impact of human immunodeficiency virus serostatus on reproductive decisions of women

Obstet Gynecol. 1992 Jun;79(6):1027-31.


Each year in the United States, several thousand women infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) become pregnant. The scope of the pediatric HIV epidemic will be determined by the reproductive decisions of these women. Although initial studies have not documented an effect of serostatus on reproductive choice, these studies have been limited to single-risk groups (eg, drug users) and have had small numbers of participants. We studied 108 HIV-seronegative women and 98 seropositive women through an index pregnancy and for an average of 1.5 years postpartum. Thirty-four of the seronegative women (31%) and 32 of the seropositive women (33%) learned their serostatus early enough in pregnancy to have the option to undergo abortion. One of the 34 seronegative women (2.9%) and six of the 32 seropositive women (18.8%) chose abortion (P less than .05). During follow-up, we found no significant differences in the numbers of pregnancies or live births between seropositive and seronegative women, or between drug-using and non-drug-using women. Among those who developed AIDS (N = 10), no live births occurred during followup. Although positive HIV status did correlate with the decision to terminate pregnancies, it did not correlate with subsequent fertility.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Abortion, Legal*
  • Adult
  • Counseling*
  • Decision Making*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • HIV Seropositivity / epidemiology
  • HIV Seropositivity / psychology*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications, Infectious / epidemiology
  • Pregnancy Complications, Infectious / psychology*
  • Pregnant Women*
  • Substance-Related Disorders