Perceptions of HIV and fertility among adolescents in Soweto, South Africa: stigma and social barriers continue to hinder progress

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(Project) M.P.H.
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The scale up of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) has raised new concerns regarding stigma associated with HIV and childbearing. High rates of infection and fertility make adolescents a crucial demographic to qualify perceptions of HIV and childbearing. Two focus groups were conducted with participants ascertained from an HIV adolescent community advisory board in Soweto, South Africa. Grounded theory, as a method of qualitative analysis was used to draw thematic conclusions. Adolescents raised concern over re-infection by HIV positive couples and justified the attitude that infected partners should adopt when faced with fertility desire. Also, participants spoke of a need to revise adolescent sexual and reproductive health services in a way that addresses stigma generated by community healthcare workers. This study should be used as preliminary findings to guide future research, both qualitative and quantitative, which further explores motivations for negative attitudes towards HIV and childbearing.
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