Field experiences integrating family planning into programs to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV

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Article (peer-reviewed)

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This article reviews field experiences with provision of family planning services in prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) programs in ten countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Family planning is a standard component of most antenatal care and maternal-child health programs within which PMTCT programs are offered. Yet PMTCT sites often miss opportunities to provide HIV-positive clients with family planning counseling. Demand for family planning among HIV-positive women varies depending on the extent of communities' openness about HIV/AIDS, fertility norms, and knowledge of PMTCT programs. In Kenya and Zambia, no differences were observed in use of contraceptives between HIV-positive and HIV-negative women in the study communities, but HIV-positive women have more affirmative attitudes about condoms and use them significantly more frequently than do their HIV-negative counterparts. In the Dominican Republic, India, and Thailand, where HIV prevalence is low and sterilization rates are high, HIV-positive women are offered sterilization, which most women accept. This article draws out the policy implications of these findings and recommends that policies be based on respect for women's right to informed reproductive choice in the context of HIV/AIDS.