HIV Infection and Contraceptive Need Among Female Ethiopian Voluntary HIV Counseling and Testing Clients

Despite political endorsement of voluntary HIV counseling and testing (VCT) and family planning integration in Ethiopia, little is known about the reproductive health needs of VCT clients. The authors estimated contraceptive prevalence and need among 646 Ethiopian female VCT clients. They compared socio-demographic characteristics of contracepting VCT clients to those with unmet need and examined how these characteristics are associated with having unmet contraceptive needs and being HIV-positive using multinomial logistic regression. The authors also assessed the quality of VCT services from clients' reports of reproductive health topics discussed in VCT sessions. Nearly 34% of female VCT clients have unmet contraceptive need. Three socio-demographic characteristics are consistently associated with both risk for unintended pregnancy and HIV: older age, marriage and lower education. In the multivariate analysis, older age, marriage and belonging to a minority ethnic group are significantly associated with being both HIV-positive and having unmet contraceptive need. Conversely, higher education, larger families and frequent sexual activity are associated with reduced likelihood of experiencing these two adverse health outcomes. VCT clients report infrequent reproductive health counseling, although HIV-positive women are more likely than HIV-negative women to have discussions about contraception with VCT counselors. At the time of this study, family planning was not offered as part of VCT programs, although VCT clients demonstrate considerable need for contraceptive services.

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