oa South African Health Review - Options for HIV-positive women : women's health

Volume 2006 Number 1
  • ISSN : 1025-1715



Over half the people currently living with HIV in South Africa are women. Since 2000, considerable progress has been made in expanding access to counselling and testing, prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV and antiretroviral therapy. However, HIV-infected women still face challenges and obstacles in accessing comprehensive services for sexual health, prevention of sexually transmitted infections, family planning and contraception, pregnancy, delivery, infant feeding, psycho-social support, counselling and treatment. Provision of comprehensive and holistic care to HIV-infected women requires promotion of optimal therapeutic care and well-being through strengthening sexual and reproductive health services. It also entails enhancing integration of HIV and reproductive health services and providing guidelines for implementation. Other pertinent considerations include improving antenatal, obstetric and postnatal care; strengthening linkages with community based support structures and supporting HIV-positive women in their reproductive choices. It also entails building capacity of health providers in non-judgemental sexual and reproductive health service delivery; expanding access to provider-initiated counselling and testing; empowering women through increasing male involvement in sexual and reproductive health as well as through improvement of the socio-economic environment.

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