Pregnancy Intention and Contraceptive Use among HIV-positive Malawian Women at 4-26 Weeks Post-partum: A Nested Cross-sectional Study

Journal Article
  • Deus Thindwa
  • Megan Landes
  • Monique van Lettow
  • Annie Kanyemba
  • Ernest Nkhoma
  • Happy Phiri
  • Thokozani Kalua
  • Joep J. van Oosterhout
  • Evelyn J. Kim
  • Beth A. Tippett Barr
  • on behalf of the NEMAPP Consortium
PLoS One
2019; Vol. 14: e0215947. DOI:


Background Avoiding unintended pregnancies through family planning is a WHO strategy for preventing mother to child transmission of HIV (PMTCT) and maternal morbidity/mortality. We investigated factors associated with unintended index pregnancy, unmet contraceptive need, future pregnancy intention and current contraceptive use among Malawian women living with HIV in the Option B+ era.

Methods Women who tested HIV positive at 4–26 weeks postpartum were enrolled into a cross-sectional study at high-volume under-5 clinics. Structured baseline interviews included questions on socio-demographics, HIV knowledge, partner’s HIV status/disclosure, ART use, pregnancy intention and contraceptive use. Logistic regression was used to determine factors associated with outcomes.

Results We enrolled 578 HIV-positive women between May 2015-May 2016; median maternal age was 28 years (y) (interquartile-range [IQR]: 23–32), median parity was 3 deliveries (IQR: 2–4) and median infant age was 7 weeks (IQR: 6–12). Overall, 41.8% women reported unintended index pregnancy, of whom 35.0% reported unmet contraceptive need and 65.0% contraceptive failure. In multivariable analysis, unintended index pregnancy was higher in ≥35y vs. 14-24y (adjusted Odds Ratio [aOR]: 2.1, 95% Confidence Interval [95%CI]: 1.0– 4.2) and in women with parity ≥3 vs. primiparous (aOR: 2.9, 95%CI: 1.5–5.6). Unmet contraceptive need at conception was higher in 14-24y vs. ≥35y (aOR: 4.2, 95%CI: 1.8–9.9), primiparous vs. ≥3 (aOR: 8.3, 95%CI: 1.8–39.5), and women with a partner of unknown HIV-status (aOR: 2.2, 95%CI: 1.2–4.0). Current contraceptive use was associated with being on ART in previous pregnancy (aOR: 2.5, 95%CI: 1.5–3.9).

Conclusions High prevalence of unintended index pregnancy and unmet contraceptive need among HIV-positive women highlight the need for improved access to contraceptives. To help achieve reproductive goals and elimination of MTCT of HIV, integration of family planning into HIV care should be strengthened to ensure women have timely access to a wide range of family planning methods with low failure risk.