The pregnancy decisions of HIV-positive women: the state of knowledge and way forward

Reprod Health Matters. 2012 Dec;20(39 Suppl):119-40. doi: 10.1016/S0968-8080(12)39641-9.


Despite the growing number of women living with and affected by HIV, there is still insufficient attention to their pregnancy-related needs, rights, decisions and desires in research, policy and programs. We carried out a review of the literature to ascertain the current state of knowledge and highlight areas requiring further attention. We found that contraceptive options for pregnancy prevention by HIV-positive women are insufficient: condoms are not always available or acceptable, and other options are limited by affordability, availability or efficacy. Further, coerced sterilization of women living with HIV is widely reported. Information gaps persist in relation to effectiveness, safety and best practices regarding assisted reproductive technologies. Attention to neonatal outcomes generally outweighs attention to the health of women before, during and after pregnancy. Access to safe abortion and post-abortion care services, which are critical to women's ability to fulfill their sexual and reproductive rights, are often curtailed. There is inadequate attention to HIV-positive sex workers, injecting drug users and adolescents. The many challenges that women living with HIV encounter in their interactions with sexual and reproductive health services shape their pregnancy decisions. It is critical that HIV-positive women be more involved in the design and implementation of research, policies and programs related to their pregnancy-related needs and rights.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Abortion, Induced / methods
  • Abortion, Induced / psychology
  • Anti-Retroviral Agents / therapeutic use
  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Contraception / methods
  • Contraception / statistics & numerical data
  • Decision Making*
  • Drug Interactions
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / drug therapy
  • HIV Infections / psychology*
  • HIV Infections / transmission
  • Health Services Accessibility / organization & administration*
  • Humans
  • Infectious Disease Transmission, Vertical / prevention & control
  • Maternal Welfare
  • Pregnancy
  • Reproductive Rights
  • Sex Workers
  • Social Stigma
  • Sterilization, Involuntary / psychology
  • Sterilization, Reproductive / psychology
  • Substance Abuse, Intravenous / complications
  • Women's Rights


  • Anti-Retroviral Agents