Fatherhood and HIV-positive heterosexual men

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Abstract

Objectives

The study of HIV and issues of reproduction is women-focused. HIV-positive men are overlooked and understudied. This study examined views on reproduction of heterosexual HIV-positive men.

Methods

Systematic questionnaire data were gathered from HIV-positive men (n = 32) attending an HIV clinic in London.

Results

Heterosexual men were rarely given medical advice on reproduction (only 9.4%). Few felt fully informed (21.9%), while many felt uninformed (46.9%) or needed more information (28.1%). Over half would value fertility/fathering consultations, up-to-date information and quick referral to fertility clinics. Nearly half (43.8%) had considered having children and 37.5% had had a child prior to HIV diagnosis. HIV status affected views on fathering, and the advent of new treatments changed views in over half of the men. Almost half (41%) believed they would experience discrimination if they conceived a baby and a quarter would withhold their HIV status when attending antenatal clinics. The majority (81%) believed that a child gave meaning to life and something to live for – only 3.1% felt a child would be a burden. Most men overestimated potential vertical transmission and would value time to discuss fathering and fatherhood.

Conclusions

There are gaps in provision. The majority of men felt that children gave meaning to life and a reason to live. Reproduction issues are not raised with HIV-positive men who are uninformed and unclear where to turn for information. Fatherhood should not be shunned as an issue for all HIV-positive men.

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