Reproductive coercion among women living with HIV: an unexplored risk factor for negative sexual and mental health outcomes

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Background:Unintended pregnancy is prevalent among women living with HIV, and is associated with poor health outcomes for women and babies. Reproductive coercion may be one unexplored mechanism for this elevated risk.Methods:Past-year reproductive coercion data were obtained via self-reported survey from a sample of women receiving HIV specialty care in Baltimore, Maryland, USA.Results:In total, 11 of the 67 women (16.4%) included in the sample reported past-year reproductive coercion. Almost two-thirds (64%) of women reporting reproductive coercion were also positive for recent post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms compared with 27% of women who did not report reproductive coercion (Fisher's exact P = 0.033).Discussion:The prevalence of reproductive coercion among our sample of in care women living with HIV suggests that attention should be paid to the impact of partner influence and coercive behaviors regarding pregnancy intentions. Because of the many potential negative consequences of unintended pregnancy for women living with HIV, it is important that providers be aware of such abuse and steps that can be taken to identify and support patients who are experiencing reproductive coercion.

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