Adolescents living with HIV in the copperbelt province of Zambia: Their reproductive health needs and experiences

Donna R. McCarraher, Catherine Packer, Sarah Mercer, Alexis Dennis, Harry Banda, Namakau Nyambe, Randy M. Stalter, Jonathan K. Mwansa, Patrick Katayamoyo, Julie A. Denison

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Abstract Background Understanding and meeting the reproductive health needs of adolescents living with HIV (ALHIV) is a growing concern since advances in antiretroviral therapy mean that many ALHIV are now living into adulthood and starting to have sex. Methods We conducted a mixed-methods study in the Copperbelt Province of Zambia to advance our understanding of the reproductive health needs of ALHIV and to assess the extent to which these needs are being met. We conducted in-depth interviews (IDIs) with 32 ALHIV from two HIV clinics, 23 with their caregivers, and 10 with clinic staff. ALHIV were interviewed twice. We used the data from the qualitative interviews to create a cross-sectional survey that we conducted with 312 ALHIV in three HIV clinics. Findings The vast majority of ALHIV reported they wanted to have children in the future but lacked knowledge about preventing mother-to-child transmission. Some sexually active adolescents used condoms, although they wanted more information about and access to non-condom methods. Many ALHIV reported that their first sexual encounters were forced. Religious beliefs prevented some caregivers from discussing premarital sex and contraception with ALHIV. Clinic staff and caregivers had mixed views about integrating contraceptive counseling and method provision into HIV care and treatment services. Few sexually active ALHIV reported that they disclosed their HIV status to their sexual partners and few reported that they knew their sexual partner’s status. Conclusions ALHIV are in dire need of comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services and information including a range of contraceptive methods to prevent pregnancy, knowledge about preventing mother-to-child transmission and having a healthy pregnancy, skills related to HIV disclosure and condom negotiation to prevent horizontal transmission, and screening for sexual violence for both males and females if services are available.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0197853
JournalPloS one
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General


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