There is a paucity of studies examining the prevalence and correlates of induced abortion among women living with HIV. Our study fills this gap by examining the prevalence and correlates of induced abortion among parturient women living with HIV in Eastern Cape, South Africa.
We analysed cross-sectional survey data of the East London Prospective Cohort Study, which took place between September 2015 and May 2016 in three large maternity facilities in the Buffalo/Amathole districts of the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa. A total of 1709 parturient women living with HIV who gave birth over the study period were recruited. We carried out descriptive and inferential statistics.
The prevalence of induced abortion was 19% (95% CI: 17.2–20.9%), but varied by women’s socio-demographic characteristics. Induced abortion prevalence was higher among women aged 25 years and over (21.4%), than among women aged less than 25 years (11.0%). Those ever married or cohabiting (26.8%) reported a higher level of induced abortion than those never-married women (15.6%). Those already diagnosed HIV positive before their index pregnancy (20.2%) had a higher prevalence of induced abortion than those diagnosed during their index pregnancy (14.1%). In the adjusted logistic regression, women were more likely to have ever induced abortion if they were ever married or cohabiting (aOR; 1.86 95% CI; 1.43–2.41), ever smoked (aOR: 1.51; 95% CI: 1.01–2.28) and diagnosed with HIV before their index pregnancy (aOR:1.44; 95% CI: 1.02–2.05) but less likely if younger than 25 years (aOR; 0.51 95% CI:0.35–0.73).
About one in five women living with HIV had ever induced abortion in the study settings, indicating that abortion service is one of the main reproductive health services needed by women living with HIV in South Africa. This is an indication that the need for abortion is somewhat high in this group of women. The finding, therefore, highlights the need for concerted efforts from all stakeholders to address the unmet need for contraception among women living with HIV to prevent unintended pregnancy.