Increased Condom and Contraception Use by HIV Positive Women in Rural KZN
HIV positive women in the KwaHlabisa sub-district of KwaZulu-Natal are making increasing use of both contraceptives and condoms as they progress through the treatment cascade, according to research results.
The empirical study, conducted by UKZN’s Africa Centre for Health and Population Studies, draws attention to a steady rise in the use of birth control as HIV-positive women discover their HIV status, enrol in HIV treatment and care programmes and become established on HIV treatment.
The findings also emphasise the importance of integrating HIV and reproductive health programmes in the public sector.
Led by Professor Till Bärnighausen, experienced researchers from the Africa Centre teamed up to co-write an article for the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes (JAIDS) supplement titled: “Preventing Unintended Pregnancy and HIV Transmission – the Effects of the HIV Treatment Cascade in Rural KwaZulu-Natal”.
‘For women living with HIV, the dual-method dual-protection contraception (condoms plus another contraceptive method) is always preferable over the single-method dual-protection contraception (condoms alone) because of its higher contraceptive effectiveness.’ said Bärnighausen.
The study found that progression through HIV treatment improved the overall likelihood of using contraception in general, particularly with condoms. Notably, this significant increase in using contraception with condoms occurred in HIV positive women who learned of their HIV status and initiated ART.
‘Our results further suggest that ART programmes contribute to HIV prevention through behavioural pathways of changing contraception uptake and choice among HIV-positive women,’ said Bärnighausen.
Bärnighausen is confident that future integration of HIV and reproductive health services can build on these achievements to further improve contraceptive choice and use among HIV-positive women.