Factors affecting decisions regarding child bearing among persons living With HIV/AIDS in Uganda: A study of Kampala and Jinja
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This study examined the factors that affect childbearing decisions by PHAs in Uganda. It was aimed at establishing whether fertility intentions among people living with HIV are influenced by access to ARVs, reproductive history or knowledge of PMTCT. Data used were collected from three organizations dealing with HIV infected people in Kampala and Jinja. Views about childbearing intentions subsequent to diagnosis with HIV were sought from 364 HIV infected individuals aged 19-44. It was established in this study that HIV dampens but does not eliminate childbearing intentions among PHAs. The results indicate that childbearing decisions are strongly associated with age, reproductive history and knowledge of PMTCT. In short, those with intentions of pursuing reproduction are younger, have no children of their own and are knowledgeable about PMTCT services. Further analysis indicates that those aged 19-24 were 2 times more likely to consider bearing children than their counterparts in advanced ages. Also, the findings confirmed that those with children were less likely to have intentions of childbearing compared to their counterparts without children. More so, the results revealed that those with knowledge of PMTCT services were about 2 times more likely to consider childbearing than their counterparts who were ignorant about PMTCT. Based on the findings of this study, it is recommended that reproductive desires and intentions of people living with HIV especially young PHAs are addressed. This is because like any other group in society, PHAs have fertility intentions which if not well understood by service providers in the HIV sector, have implications for the spread of HIV. To help them make informed decisions, therefore, young counselors who are themselves HIV positive and have received training in matters of childbearing among PHAs should be used. Also the use of success stories by HIV positive individuals who have successfully pursued parenthood can yield results. There is also need to increase sensitization about PMTCT services to help PHAs aspiring for parenthood to make informed decisions. This is because national statistics on knowledge and uptake of PMTCT services show a huge contrast between the former and latter. This can be done by conducting PMTCT workshops at the community level to reduce stigma associated with some aspects of PMTCT such as breastfeeding. Similarly, all efforts should be made to improve access to ARVs to help HIV positive people fulfill desires for parenthood without fears of ill health and limited lifespan.