“If I don’t use a condom … I would be stressed in my heart that I’ve done something wrong”: Routine Prevention Messages Preclude Safer Conception Counseling for HIV-Infected Men and Women in South Africa

Academic Article


  • Intended conception likely contributes to a significant proportion of new HIV infections in South Africa. Safer conception strategies require healthcare provider–client communication about fertility intentions, periconception risks, and options to modify those risks. We conducted in-depth interviews with 35 HIV-infected men and women accessing care in South Africa to explore barriers and promoters to patient–provider communication around fertility desires and intentions. Few participants had discussed personal fertility goals with providers. Discussions about pregnancy focused on maternal and child health, not sexual HIV transmission; no participants had received tailored safer conception advice. Although participants welcomed safer conception counseling, barriers to client-initiated discussions included narrowly focused prevention messages and perceptions that periconception transmission risk is not modifiable. Supporting providers to assess clients’ fertility intentions and offer appropriate advice, and public health campaigns that address sexual HIV transmission in the context of conception may improve awareness of and access to safer conception strategies.
  • Authors

    Published In

  • AIDS and Behavior  Journal
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Matthews LT; Moore L; Milford C; Greener R; Mosery FN; Rifkin R; Psaros C; Safren SA; Harrison A; Wilson IB
  • Start Page

  • 1666
  • End Page

  • 1675
  • Volume

  • 19
  • Issue

  • 9