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International News

Family Planning Critical in HIV-Ridden Uganda

December 3, 2009

Uganda residents with HIV are far more likely than their HIV-negative neighbors to want to stop having children, a new study shows -- a finding that suggests a way to limit the spread of the infection there.

"In some way that was surprising because we know that the desire for children is very strong, but these people were concerned about the health of the child and the mother, and they did want to stop," said Jennifer Heys, who conducted a survey of Ugandans' attitudes as a graduate student at the University of Alberta in Canada.

At the same time, the researchers noted a lack of information and access regarding effective birth control. Two methods of contraception are considered necessary for effective birth control, but this practice was employed by only eight of the 421 people responding to Heys' survey.

The researchers called for integration of public health messages regarding HIV prevention, which promote condom use, and those regarding family planning, which encourage the use of oral contraceptives. Ugandan women have an average of seven children, and the country has the world's third-highest birth rate.

"If the groups were more linked and talked about ways to protect yourself against HIV and unintended pregnancy simultaneously, that would be better," Heys said.

Uganda currently has about 940,000 HIV-positive residents in a population of 31 million. Some 14,000 babies are infected with HIV at birth each year, and the epidemic has orphaned about 1.5 million Ugandan children.

The study, "Fertility Desires and Infection With HIV: Results From a Survey in Rural Uganda," was published in AIDS (2009;23():S37-S45).

Back to other news for December 2009

Adapted from:
Edmonton Journal
11.23.2009; Bill Mah

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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
See Also
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10 Common Fears About HIV Transmission
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