Couple perspectives on unintended pregnancy in an area with high HIV prevalence: A qualitative analysis in Rakai, Uganda

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Article (peer-reviewed)

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Understanding how couples perceive a recent unintended pregnancy in the context of HIV infection and high levels of gender inequality may provide insights for prevention of undesired pregnancy. We used data from 24 in-depth interviews with 8 HIV-serodiscordant and 4 seroconcordant couples living in rural Uganda and interviewed separately; between 15 and 49 years and one or both identified the pregnancy as unintended. A dyadic analysis was performed to understand each partner’s perspectives on experiences of a specific pregnancy. We used the social-ecological model to guide the analysis. Issues of agency were commonly invoked in describing pregnancy. Women often cited factors that demonstrated a lack of control when making decisions about continuing the pregnancy. Men often expressed a lack of agency or control over preventing their female partner from becoming pregnant. There was much disagreement between partners about intentions regarding the specific pregnancy. Likewise, lack of communication about child spacing and pregnancy intentions was common among couples. HIV serostatus played a role in some discussions of pregnancy intention among serodiscordant couples. This qualitative analysis supports prior quantitative research on the complexity of pregnancy intentions. A lack of agency at the individual level was compounded by a lack of communication between partners.