In the last decade, there has been improvement in life expectancy of people living with HIV due to improved drug therapy and care and support programs. However, along with better prospects for a healthy life, comes the desire to have children. Women living with HIV who intend to have children need information and services focused on safe conception strategies while those who do not desire a child need access to effective family planning methods. 

Yet, many women living with HIV do not have access to their preferred method of contraception. In 2015, 1.5 million pregnancies occurred in women living with HIV in low and middle-income countries. Studies indicated that more than half of these pregnancies were unintended. Effective family planning has the potential to avert the majority of these unintended pregnancies, which result in a high risk of HIV infection transmission to the child. 

The ways in which women living with HIV access, choose, and use contraceptive methods is largely unknown. Identifying the gaps between preferred contraceptive method and actual contraceptive use will help in designing specific contraceptive counselling programs. The aim of this study is to generate evidence to improve understanding of contraceptive choices and use in women living with HIV in western Ethiopia. In many settings, health workers have negative attitudes about pregnancy in women living with HIV (WLHIV). If health care providers are aware and discuss personal reproductive plans of their clients, they can help them reduce the risks associated with attempting pregnancy and unplanned pregnancy.

Survey and interviews will be undertaken to explore contraceptive use and fertility in women living with HIV in western Ethiopia. The ultimate goal is to use this evidence to design family planning and safe conception programs to support the prevention of mother to child transmission of HIV (PMTCT).


Mr Tesfay Feyissa, Dr Melissa Harris, Professor Deborah Loxton

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