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Sexual and Reproductive Life of Women Informed of Their HIV Seropositivity: A Prospective Cohort Study in Burkina Faso

Nebié Yacouba; Meda, Nicolas; Leroy, Valériane; Mandelbrot, Laurent; Yaro, Seydou; Sombié, Issiaka; Cartoux, Michel; Tiendrébeogo, Sylvestre; Dao, Blami; Ouangré, Amadou; Nacro, Boubacar; Fao, Paulin; Ky-Zerbo, Odette; Van de Perre, Philippe; Dabis, François
JAIDS Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes: December 1st, 2001
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Background:In the context of the DITRAME-ANRS 049 research program that evaluated interventions aimed at reducing mother-to-child transmission of HIV (MTCT) in Bobo-Dioulasso (Burkina Faso), Voluntary HIV counseling and testing (VCT) services were established for pregnant women. HIV-infected women were advised to disclose their HIV serostatus to their male partners who were also offered VCT, to use condoms to reduce sexual transmission, and to choose an effective contraception method to avoid unwanted pregnancies. This study aimed at assessing how HIV test results were shared with male sexual partners, the level of use of modern contraceptive methods, and the pregnancy incidence among these women informed of the risks surrounding sexual and reproductive health during HIV infection.

Methods:From 1995 to 1999, a quarterly prospective follow-up of a cohort of HIV-positive women.

Results:Overall, 306 HIV-positive women were monitored over an average period of 13.5 months following childbirth, accounting for a total of 389 person-years. The mean age at enrollment in the cohort was 25.1 (standard deviation, 5.2 years). In all, 18% of women informed their partners, 8% used condoms at each instance of sexual intercourse to avoid HIV transmission, and 39% started using hormonal contraception. A total of 48 pregnancies occurred after HIV infection was diagnosed, an incidence of 12.3 pregnancies per 100 person-years. Pregnancy incidence was 4 per 100 personyears in the first year of monitoring and this rose significantly to 18 per 100 person-years in the third year. The only predictor of the occurrence of a pregnancy after HIV diagnosis was the poor outcome of the previous pregnancy (stillbirth, infant death). Severe immunodeficiency and change in marital status were the only factors that prevented the occurrence of a pregnancy after HIV diagnosis.

Conclusion:Our study shows a poor rate of HIV test sharing and a poor use of contraceptive methods despite regular advice and counseling. Pregnancy incidence remained comparable with the pregnancy rate in the general population. To improve this situation, approaches for involving husbands or partners in VCT and prevention of MTCT interventions should be developed, evaluated, and implemented.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to Nicolas Meda, Centre MURAZ/OCCGE 01, PO Box 390, Bobo-Dioulasso 01, Burkina Faso, West Africa; e-mail:

Manuscript received February 12, 2001; accepted July 30, 2001.

© 2001 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.