The reproductive health behaviors of HIV-infected young women in the United States: A literature review

AIDS Patient Care STDS. 2013 Dec;27(12):669-80. doi: 10.1089/apc.2013.0208.


HIV-infected young women in the United States have important reproductive health needs that are made more complex by their HIV status. We searched Pubmed and relevant bibliographies to identify 32 articles published from 2001 to July 2012 that described the prevalence, correlates, and characteristics of the sexual activity, relationships, pregnancy intentions, HIV status disclosure, and contraceptive and condom use among US HIV-infected adolescents and young women. Our synthesis of those articles found that, like youth not infected with HIV, substantial proportions of HIV-infected youth were sexually active, and most sought romantic or sexual relationships, though their serostatus may have affected the pace of physical and emotional intimacy. Disclosure was difficult, and large proportions of HIV-infected youth had not disclosed their serostatus to recent partners. A few studies suggest that most HIV-infected young women hoped to have children in the future, but many wanted to avoid pregnancy until later. Only one study described contraceptive use among this population in detail and found that condoms were a primary method of contraception. The results point to substantial gaps in published research, particularly in the areas of pregnancy intentions and contraceptive use. Much more needs to be done in research and health services to better understand and meet the complex health needs of HIV-infected young women.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / psychology*
  • Health Behavior*
  • Humans
  • Reproductive Health*
  • Sexual Behavior*
  • Sexual Partners
  • United States
  • Young Adult