Community attitudes towards sexual activity and childbearing by HIV-positive people in South Africa

Academic Article


  • While the ability to lead a healthy sexual life and to choose whether and when to have children are well-established features of reproductive health and human rights, issues surrounding sexual activity and childbearing among HIV-infected women and men have received little attention in sub-Saharan Africa. We conducted a semi-structured, cross-sectional survey at 26 primary health care clinics in South Africa to investigate community attitudes towards sexual activity and reproduction by HIV-infected individuals. Of the 843 women interviewed, slightly less than half (43%, n=361) thought that people living with HIV/AIDS should remain sexually active if they choose, while 13% (n=113) said they thought that people living with HIV/AIDS should have children if they wished to do so. In multivariate analysis, negative attitudes towards both sexuality and childbearing were persistently associated with not knowing someone infected with HIV (p=0.001 and 0.043, respectively). These findings suggest that the sexual and reproductive health rights of HIV-infected women and men may be an important target as part of efforts to reduce HIV/AIDS-related stigma. Health policies and services are required to reinforce the reproductive rights of HIV-infected individuals in South Africa and other countries in sub-Saharan Africa where HIV is most prevalent. © 2006 Taylor & Francis.
  • Authors

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Myer L; Morroni C; Cooper D
  • Start Page

  • 772
  • End Page

  • 776
  • Volume

  • 18
  • Issue

  • 7