Improving Sexual and Reproductive Health in Countries Plagued with HIV
More than 12 million women of childbearing age are living with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa. Pregnancy among these women raises concerns about their health and survival, and the risks of HIV transmission to their sexual partners and infants.
Despite the risks, there are more than 1.4 million pregnancies annually among these HIV-positive women. Of these pregnancies, 30 to 50 per cent are intentional. The prevailing emphasis in sub-Saharan Africa on abstinence and condom use for HIV prevention has failed to take into account broader factors that influence couples’ desires to have children, or how the realization of these desires may continue HIV transmission.
Since 2006, Dr. Angela Kaida, Canada Research Chair in Global Perspectives on HIV and Sexual and Reproductive Health, has worked to understand trends and predictors of reproductive intentions, behaviours and outcomes among HIV-affected couples. Her research in South Africa, Uganda and other HIV-endemic countries has found that expanding the availability of regular HIV prevention and treatment services has a positive influence on the sexual and reproductive health of HIV-positive women. Antiretroviral treatment in high-risk areas, for example, has dramatically reduced HIV transmission.
Kaida’s research will help shape health policies and programs, so that HIV-affected women can safely achieve their reproductive goals while minimizing risks to their health and to that of their partners and infants.