Fertility Intentions and Clinical Care Attendance Among Women Living with HIV in South Africa

AIDS Behav. 2020 Jun;24(6):1585-1591. doi: 10.1007/s10461-019-02564-y.


Poor HIV care retention impedes optimal treatment outcomes in persons living with HIV. Women trying to become pregnant may be motivated by periconception horizontal and vertical transmission concerns and thus more likely to attend HIV care visits than women not trying to conceive. We estimated the effect of fertility intentions on HIV care attendance over 12 months among non-pregnant, HIV-positive women aged 18-35 years who were on or initiating antiretroviral therapy in Johannesburg, South Africa. The percentage of women attending an HIV care visit decreased from 93.4% in the first quarter to 82.8% in the fourth quarter. Fertility intentions were not strongly associated with care attendance in this cohort of reproductive-aged women; however, attendance declined over time irrespective of childbearing plans. These findings suggest a need for reinforced efforts to support care engagement and risk reduction, including safer conception practices for women wishing to conceive.

Keywords: Antiretroviral therapy; Engagement in care; Fertility intentions; Retention; Safer conception.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Antiretroviral Therapy, Highly Active
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Fertility*
  • Fertilization
  • HIV Infections / drug therapy
  • HIV Infections / prevention & control
  • HIV Infections / psychology*
  • HIV Infections / transmission
  • Humans
  • Infectious Disease Transmission, Vertical / prevention & control*
  • Intention*
  • Male
  • Patient Participation*
  • Pregnancy
  • Reproduction
  • Risk Reduction Behavior*
  • South Africa
  • Young Adult