BackgroundA significant proportion (20-59%) of people living with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa desire childbearing, are of reproductive age, and are in sero-different relationships (~50%). Thus it is plausible that some portion of new HIV transmissions are due to attempts to become pregnant. Safer conception (SC) methods that effectively reduce the risk of HIV transmission exist and can be made available in resource-constrained settings. Few studies in the region, and none in Botswana, have quantitatively examined the correlates of information, motivation, and behavioral skills for SC uptake.
MethodsWe surveyed 356 women living with HIV from 6/2018 to 12/2018 at six public-sector health clinics in Gaborone, Botswana. Participants were 18-40 years old, not pregnant, and desired future children or were unsure about their childbearing plans. We examined correlates of SC information, motivation, and behavioral skills using nested linear regression models, adjusting for socio-demographic, interpersonal, and structural variables.
ResultsKnowledge of SC methods varied widely. While some SC methods were well known (medical male circumcision by 83%, antiretroviral therapy for viral suppression by 64%), most other methods were known by less than 40% of participants. Our final models reveal that stigma as well as relationship and partner factors affect SC information, motivation, and behavioral skills. Both internalized childbearing stigma (ß=-0.50, 95%CI:-0.17, -0.02) and perceived community childbearing stigma were negatively associated with SC information (ß=-0.09, 95%CI:-0.80, -0.21). Anticipated (ß=-0.06, 95%CI:-0.12, -0.003) and internalized stigma (ß=-0.27, 95%CI:-0.44; -0.10) were associated with decreased SC motivation, while perceived community childbearing stigma was associated with increased SC motivation (ß=0.07, 95%CI:0.02, 0.11). Finally, internalized childbearing stigma was associated with decreased SC behavioral skills (ß=-0.80, 95%CI: -1.12, -0.47) while SC information (ß=0.24, 95%CI:0.12, 0.36), motivation (ß=0.36, 95%CI:0.15, 0.58), and perceived partner willingness to use SC (ß=0.47, 95%CI:0.36, 0.57) were positively associated with behavioral skills CONCLUSIONS: Low SC method-specific information levels are concerning since almost half (47%) of the study participants reported they were in sero-different relationships and desired more children. Findings highlight the importance of addressing HIV stigma and partner dynamics in interventions to improve SC information, motivation, and behavioral skills.