SRHR and HIV: is maternity a right?

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Beatriz Rocha Cuzzuol is a 2nd year medical student at Federal University of Bahia, Vitória da Conquista – BA, Brazil. She is affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writer and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.


When we think about HIV and sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), our first thought, most times, is that they are contradictory. “How can I be seropositive and have my full SRHR?”, we may think. The truth is that, unfortunately, little is discussed about HIV and SRHR, especially regarding seropositive women and motherhood.

Understanding the rights and wills of women with HIV is crucial when we talk about maternity and pregnancy because no woman should have their choice to have children denied.

In cases with planned pregnancy and prevention methods, several studies showed that mother-to-child transmission rates are about 0-2%. Despite that, the situation is very different in low socioeconomic realities. The absence of information and lack of interventions to reduce viral load are factors that increase the pregnancy risks and hinder the full exercise of SRHR.

Another important aspect to discuss is pregnancy discrimination. Several seropositive women face prejudice when they choose to become pregnant. It is common to hear that women with HIV are unable to be mothers as if they did not have the right to maternity. These reactions are present both in family, friends, and in the healthcare team, and negatively affects the biopsychosocial status of these women.

Thus, health promotion, especially in vulnerable populations, and the break of prejudice are vital to endorse SRHR in HIV scenarios. Healthcare professionals must be guided to analyze each situation without discrimination, while the community must understand that pregnancy and sexual health are also seropositive people’s rights. With these measures, SRHR and HIV may be able to coexist.

References:

  1. GONCALVES, Tonantzin Ribeiro et al. Vida reprodutiva de pessoas vivendo com HIV/AIDS: revisando a literatura.Psicol. Soc., Florianópolis, v.21, n.2, p.223-232, Aug. 2009. Available from http://www.scielo.br/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0102-71822009000200009&lng=en&nrm=iso
  2. Reproductive rights and HIV/Aids:
  1. Women with HIV and reproductive rights:

http://www.ufpb.br/evento/index.php/18redor/18redor/paper/viewFile/685/678

About the author

Beatriz Rocha Cuzzuol is a 2nd year medical student at Federal University of Bahia, Vitória da Conquista – BA, Brazil. She is an active member of the International Federation of Medical Students Associations Brazil, and truly believes that local acts and thoughts can cause global changes.

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