To use or not to use a condom: A prospective cohort study comparing contraceptive practices among HIV-infected and HIV-negative youth in Uganda
Ekström, Anna Mia
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Background: Unwanted pregnancy and HIV infection are issues of significant concern to young people. Limited data exists on contraceptive decision-making and practices among HIV-infected and HIV-negative young people in low resource settings with generalized HIV epidemics. Methods: From July 2007 until April 2009, we recruited, and followed up over a one year period, a cohort of 501 HIV-negative and 276 HIV-infected young women and men aged 15-24 years residing in Kampala and Wakiso districts. We compared contraceptive use among HIV-infected and HIV-negative young people and assessed factors associated with contraceptive decision-making and use, using multivariate logistic regression modelling to estimate odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI). Results: Contraceptive use among sexually active HIV-infected young people was 34% while it was 59% among the HIV-negative group. The condom was the most frequently used method of contraception. Only 24% of the HIV-infected used condoms consistently compared to 38% among the negative group OR 0.56 (95% CI 0.38, 0.82). HIV-infected young people were more likely to discuss safe sex behaviour with health workers OR 1.70 (95% CI 1.13, 2.57), though its effect on fertility decision-making was not significant. Throughout the year’s follow-up, only 24% among the HIV-negative and 18% among the HIV-infected continued to use contraception while 12% and 28% among the HIV-negative and infected respectively did not use contraception at all. At multivariate analysis, the HIV-infected young people were less likely to maintain contraceptive use. Other factors independently associated with sustained contraceptive use were age of the respondent, marital status and being a male. Conversely, HIVinfected young people were less likely to initiate use of contraception. Being married or in a relationship was associated with higher odds of initiating contraceptive use. Conclusion: Compared to the HIV-negative group, sexually active HIV-infected young people are less likely to use contraception and condoms. Initiating or sustaining contraceptive use was also significantly less among the HIVinfected group. Strengthening family planning services and developing new innovative ideas to re-market condom use are needed. Policy and guidelines that empower health workers to help young people (especially the HIV infected) express their sexuality and reproduction should urgently be developed.