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AIDS Patient Care STDS. 2019 May;33(5):214-219. doi: 10.1089/apc.2018.0242.

Perceptions of HIV Preexposure Prophylaxis Among Young Pregnant Women from Rural KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.

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1 Bridgeport Hospital Internal Medicine, Bridgeport, Connecticut.
2 Church of Scotland Hospital, Tugela Ferry, South Africa.
3 Northeastern University, Boston, Massachusetts.
4 Philanjalo NGO, Tugela Ferry, South Africa.
5 AIDS Program, Department of Medicine, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut.


Young sub-Saharan women are at particularly high risk of HIV acquisition during pregnancy and the postpartum period and would potentially benefit from preexposure prophylaxis (PrEP). From June to August 2016, we interviewed 187 HIV negative pregnant women 18-24 years old in Tugela Ferry, Kwazulu-Natal province, a rural and among the poorest subdistricts in South Africa. Demographic data, HIV and PrEP knowledge, HIV risk, and readiness for oral tenofovir-based PrEP were collected using an information-motivation-behavior model-formatted instrument. Mean age was 20.3 years, 179 (95.7%) were unemployed, and 137 (73.3%) reported sex with one partner in the last month. Most were concerned that their sexual partner (95.2%) potentially had HIV or had other sexual partners in the last month (36.4%). Despite this, only 7 (3.7%) women reported that condoms had been used consistently during sex; most (97.3%) felt powerless to negotiate condom use with their partner. There was widespread interest in taking PrEP (97.3%), and most women (>97%) reported possessing the skills to take pills regularly, would commit to monthly visits, and were motivated to remain HIV negative to take care of their families. Young pregnant rural South African women are cognizant of their HIV risk and interested in prevention. Impending motherhood may portend increased interest in HIV prevention. We identified three potential obstacles to successful PrEP rollout among young pregnant women: hesitation about PrEP effectiveness (46%), perceived HIV stigma (53.5%), and risk compensation through decreased condom use (9.6%). Comparative studies of motivations, skills, and rates of initiation and adherence among pregnant and nonpregnant women are needed to inform optimal implementation efforts.


HIV; South Africa; condom; preexposure prophylaxis; pregnancy; primary prevention

[Available on 2020-05-01]

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