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AIDS. 1998;12 Suppl 1:S41-50.

Measuring the impact of HIV on fertility in Africa.

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1
Centre for Population Studies, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, UK.

Abstract

OBJECTIVES:

To review evidence for the impact of HIV on fertility from empirical sources pertaining to African populations and to discuss the implications for surveillance based on antenatal clinic populations.

METHODS:

The theoretical equivalence between the fertility rate ratio for HIV-positive to HIV-negative women and the relative odds of being infected for pregnant women compared with the general female population is demonstrated. This equivalence is used to compare fertility differentials measured in cohort studies with those calculated indirectly from antenatal clinic data. Data from case-control studies and theoretical predictions from a model of the proximate determinants of fertility and HIV incidence are used to obtain plausible explanations of the fertility differences. Estimates of population attributable change are made.

RESULTS:

Fertility of HIV-positive women is lower than that of HIV-negative women, in all but the youngest age-group, and the differential increases with women's age and epidemic duration. Selection for early start of sexual activity explains the reverse pattern at younger ages. Lower fertility amongst HIV-positive women causes a population attributable decline in total fertility of the order of 0.4% for each percentage point HIV prevalence in the general female population.

CONCLUSIONS:

In populations that do not use contraceptives, HIV-positive women have lower fertility principally as a result of foetal losses consequent to infection with HIV and coinfection with other sexually transmitted diseases; behavioural factors tend to enhance this differential. Other factors being equal, HIV prevalence estimates based on antenatal surveillance underestimate true prevalence in women in the childbearing years.

PIP:

Growing evidence indicates that HIV-1 infection is having a measurable impact upon fertility in the countries of sub-Saharan Africa which have been seriously affected by the epidemic. The impact is due to the direct biological effects of HIV on the fecundity of infected women, as well as to its indirect effects upon behavior in the general population. Data from case-control studies and theoretical predictions from a model of the proximate determinants of fertility and HIV incidence were used to assess the impact of HIV upon fertility in Africa. Analysis of the data shows that the fertility of HIV-positive women is lower than that of HIV-negative women in all but the youngest age group, with the differential increasing with women's age and epidemic duration. Selection for the early start of sexual activity explains the reverse pattern at younger ages. Lower fertility among HIV-positive women causes a population attributable decline in total fertility of 0.4% for each percentage point HIV prevalence in the general female population.

PMID:
9677188
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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