Facing HIV infection and unintended pregnancy: Rakai, Uganda, 2001–2013

Grilo, Stephanie A.; Song, Xiaoyu; Lutalo, Tom; Mullinax, Margo; Mathur, Sanyukta; Santelli, John S.

Background: Unintended pregnancy is a persistent and global issue with consequences for the health and well-being of mothers and babies. The aim of this paper is to examine unintended pregnancy over time in the context of substantial human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) prevalence and increasing access to anti-retro viral therapy (ART).

Method: Data are from the Rakai Community Cohort Study (RCCS) – a cohort of communities with 10,000–12,000 adults, ages 15–49, in Rakai District, Uganda. We examined prevalence of current pregnancies over time, intended pregnancy, and unintended pregnancies (unwanted, mistimed, ambivalent). We then examined risk factors for the different categories of unintended pregnancy among women who were currently pregnant. The full sample included 32,205 observations over 13 years.

Results: The prevalence of mistimed pregnancy and unwanted pregnancy both decreased significantly over time (p < .001). The prevalence of current pregnancies and intended pregnancy showed no significant changes over the thirteen year period. The same overall pattern was found when only examining HIV positive women in the sample; however, the trends were not significant. Out of the 2820 current pregnancies reported, 54.4% were intended, 29.8% were mistimed, 13.2% were unwanted, and 2.5% were ambivalent. After controlling for other predictors, HIV status had no independent effect on mistimed pregnancy but had a significant effect on unwanted pregnancy (RRR = 2.44, 95% CI = 1.65–3.61, p < .001] and ambivalent pregnancy [RRR = 2.07; CI: 1.03 to 4.18, p = 0.041]. In 2004, after the introduction of ART, there was a decreased risk in unintended pregnancy [RR = 0.75; CI: 0.66 to 0.84, p < .001]. Women with a secondary education or higher also had a decreased risk in unintended pregnancy [RR = 0.70; CI: 0.70 to 0.92, p = 0.002].

Discussion: HIV was an important predictor of unwanted pregnancy. Unintended pregnancy decreased in the sample over time which may be due to an increase in ART availability and rising levels of education.

Geographic Areas


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Also Published In

BMC Women's Health

More About This Work

Academic Units
Sociomedical Sciences
Population and Family Health
Published Here
March 5, 2018


HIV/AIDS, Unintended pregnancy