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J Biosoc Sci. 2011 Jan;43(1):19-29. doi: 10.1017/S0021932010000568. Epub 2010 Oct 12.

Fertility among HIV-infected Indian women: the biological effect and its implications.

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Population Research Centre, University of Groningen, The Netherlands.


In India, nearly one million women of childbearing age are infected with HIV. This study sought to examine the biological effect of HIV on the fertility of HIV-infected Indian women. This is relevant for the provision of pregnancy-related counselling and care to the infected women, and for estimating the HIV prevalence among women and children. The study used retrospectively collected data from the National Family Health Survey (2005-2006) and applied a matched case control study design to compare the effect of HIV on conception, pregnancy rates and pregnancy outcomes among HIV-infected (N=69) and HIV-non-infected (N=345) women, both unaware of their HIV status. Pregnancy rates and pregnancy outcomes were compared through non-parametric statistical tests, whereas the effect of HIV on fecundity was studied by analysing the interval between last two pregnancies using Cox regression. The pregnancy rate was observed to be lower among HIV-infected than HIV-non-infected women (RR=0.77). The difference, however, was not statistically significant (p=0.064). There was also no statistically significant difference in the interval between last two pregnancies (p=0.898). Significantly higher number of pregnancies among HIV-infected women resulted in termination because of miscarriage or stillbirths (p=0.004). Therefore, while providing clinical care and counselling to infected women, the possibility of adverse pregnancy outcomes should be considered. Due to the higher rate of adverse pregnancy outcomes, attendance of HIV-infected women at antenatal clinics might be greater, which could lead to overestimation of HIV prevalence derived from antenatal care surveillance sites.

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