Health care provider perspectives on pregnancy and parenting in HIV-positive individuals in South Africa

Journal Article


Journal Title

BMC Health Services Research

Journal ISSN
Volume Title

BioMed Central


University of Cape Town

Background: Within the health system, limited attention is given to supporting the fertility and parenting desires on HIV-positive people. In this study, we explore health care providers’ knowledge and perspectives on safer conception and alternate parenting strategies for HIV-positive people. Methods Between November 2007 and January 2008, in-depth interviews were conducted with 28 health care workers involved in providing HIV and/or antiretroviral services at public sector clinics in Cape Town, South Africa. Views on sexual and reproductive health services, pregnancy, childbearing and parenting in HIV-positive men and women were explored using a semi-structured interview guide. Data were analyzed using a thematic approach. Results: Providers recognized the sexual and reproductive rights of HIV-positive individuals, but struggled with the tension between supporting these rights and concerns about spreading infection. Limited knowledge of safer conception methods constrained their ability to counsel and support clients in realizing fertility desires. Providers believed that parenting alternatives that do not maintain biological and cultural linkage are unlikely to be acceptable options. Conclusions: Health care provider training and support is critical to providing comprehensive sexual and reproductive health care and meeting the fertility desires of HIV-positive people.