Background: Preventing unintended pregnancy is critical for women living with HIV (WLWH) to safely achieve their reproductive goals. Family planning services should support WLWH at risk of repeat unintended pregnancies. We examined the relationship between unintended pregnancy and subsequent contraception use among WLWH in Uganda.
Study design: This was a retrospective analysis of data from a longitudinal cohort of individuals initiating antiretroviral therapy (ART), restricted to women with pregnancy (confirmed via urine β-hcg testing) between 2011-2013. The exposure of interest was intended vs unintended pregnancy, and the outcome was self-report of modern contraceptive use (hormonal methods, intrauterine device, sterilization, and/or consistent condom use) at 12 (range 6-18) months post-partum. A log-binomial model was used to estimate relative risks of modern contraceptive use post-partum based on intent of the index pregnancy, adjusted for age, socioeconomic status, education, relationship and HIV status of pregnancy partner, contraceptive use prior to pregnancy, years since HIV diagnosis, ART regimen, and CD4 cell count.
Results: Among 455 women, 110 women reported 110 incident pregnancies with report on intent. Women had a baseline median age of 29 years, baseline CD4 count 403 cells/mm3, and were living with HIV for 3.8 years. Fifty pregnancies (45%) were reported as unintended and 60 (55%) as intended. Postpartum, 64% of women with unintended and 51% with intended pregnancy reported modern contraception (p = 0.24). In adjusted models, there was no association between pregnancy intent and post-partum contraception. However, contraceptive use prior to the referent pregnancy was positively associated with post-partum contraceptive use (aRR 1.97 (95% CI 1.12-3.48, p = 0.02), while higher baseline CD4 cell count was associated with lower post-partum contraceptive use (aRR 0.95, 95% CI 0.90-0.99, p = 0.02).
Conclusions: Almost half of incident pregnancies among WLWH in this cohort were unintended. Experiencing an unintended pregnancy was not associated with post-partum contraceptive use. Creative strategies to support contraceptive uptake for birth spacing and prevention of unintended pregnancies in the post-partum period are needed.