Fertility Desires and Intentions of HIV-Positive Men and Women
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HIV-positive men and women may have fertility desires and may intend to have children. The extent of these desires and intentions and how they may vary by individuals’ social and demographic characteristics and health factors is not well understood. METHODS: Interviews were conducted from September through December 1998 with 1,421 HIV-infected adults who were part of the HIV Cost and Services Utilization Study, a nationally representative probability sample of 2,864 HIV-infected adults who were receiving medical care within the contiguous United States in early 1996. RESULTS: Overall, 28-29% of HIV-infected men and women receiving medical care in the United States desire children in the future. Among those desiring children, 69% of women and 59% of men actually expect to have one or more children in the future. The proportion of HIV-infected women desiring a child in the future is somewhat lower than the overall proportion of U.S. women who desire a child. The fertility desires of HIV-infected individuals do not always agree with those of their partners: As many as 20% of HIV-positive men who desire children have a partner who does not Generally, HIV-positive individuals who desire children are younger, have fewer children and report higher ratings of their physical functioning or overall health than their counterparts who do not desire children, yet desire for future childbearing is not related to measures of HIV progression. HIV-positive individuals who expect children are generally younger and less likely to be married than those who do not. Multivariate analyses indicate that black HIlV-positive individuals are more likely to expect children in the future than are others. While HIV-positive women who already have children are significantly less likely than others both to desire and to expect more births, partner’s HIV status has mixed effects: Women whose partner’s HIV status is known are significantly less likely to desire children but are significantly more likely to expect children in the future than are women whose partner’s HIV status is unknown. Moreover, personal health status significantly affects women’s desire for children in the future but not men’s, while health status more strongly influences men’s expectations to have children. CONCLUSIONS: The fact that many HIV-infected adults desire and expect to have children has important implications for the prevention of vertical and heterosexual transmission of HIV, the need for counseling to facilitate informed decision-making about childbearing and childrearing, and the future demand for social services for children born to infected parents.
Reprinted with permission from Family Planning Perspectives, Vol. 33, No. 4, July-Aug 2001, pp. 144-152 & 165, © 2001 The Alan Guttmacher Institute.
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