Access to sexual and reproductive health services for women living with HIV in Latin America and the Caribbean: Systematic review of the literature


INTRODUCTION: Systematic reviews show that women living with HIV (WLHIV) have high unmet sexual and reproductive health (SRH) needs due to barriers to access sexual and reproductive health services (SRHS). In Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), as of 2016, there were nearly one million WLHIV, but the existing evidence of their SRH needs comes from a few individual studies. This systematic review provides an overview of these women’s needs to help define new and/or adapt existing public health strategies to the local context. This review synthesizes the evidence from the literature on the use of and access to SRHS related to family planning, antenatal care, abortion services and violence against WLHIV in LAC. METHODS: Using a systematic review of mixed studies, a search was performed in MEDLINE, EMBASE, LILACS, INASP, POPLINE, SCOPUS, for studies conducted in LAC, from 2004 to 2017, as well as contact with authors and hand search as needed. Two independent reviewers evaluated the quality of the studies using the Mixed Methods Appraisal Tool; inclusion was conducted according to the PRISMA flow diagram. An exploratory narrative synthesis followed by quantitative synthesis data was undertaken. Group analysis or meta-analysis was not considered appropriate given the level of heterogeneity of the studies. RESULTS: A total of 18 studies in 13 LAC countries for a population of 5672 WLHIV were included. Data from individual studies reported unmet family planning needs; higher, but inconsistent use of condom as the sole contraceptive method OR=1.46 [1.26 to 1.69]; lesser use of other non-permanent contraceptive methods OR=0.26 [0.22 to 0.31]; more unplanned pregnancies OR=1.30 [1.02 to 1.66]; more induced abortions OR=1.96 [1.60 to 2.39]; higher risk of immediate postpartum sterilization; and higher exposure to sexual and institutional violence by WLHIV when compared with women without HIV. CONCLUSIONS: This review presents evidence from LAC about the SRH unmet needs of WLHIV that must be addressed by decreasing institutional and structural barriers, facilitating services and reducing stigma, and discrimination among healthcare providers to improve access to SRHS based on human rights, so women independently of their HIV status can make their own reproductive decisions, free of violence and coercion


Gomez-Suarez M, Mello MB, Gonzalez MA, Ghidinelli M, Perez F




  • Determinants of Health
    • Abuse
  • Population(s)
    • Women
    • General HIV+ population


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