Background: Meeting the contraceptive needs of women living with HIV (WLHIV) has primary health benefits for women, in addition to being a key element to prevent mother-to-child HIV transmission. This analysis will estimate the current number of infant HIV infections prevented by contraception in the era of increased HIV treatment coverage and; 2) model the additional HIV benefits of preventing unintended births to WLHIV.
Methods: Secondary data analysis was conducted using publicly available data from the United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and Population Division, Demographic Health Surveys, and peer-review literature. National data from 70 countries, that had a UNAIDS estimate for the number of WLHIV nationally, were combined into country-level models. Models estimated the current number of infant HIV infections averted by contraception annually and potentially averted if unintended births to WLHIV were prevented. Estimates take into account pregnancy and live birth rates, contraceptive coverage, contraceptive method mix and failure rates, and HIV treatment coverage during pregnancy to prevent mother to child transmission.
Results: Contraception use among WLHIV prevents an estimated 43,559 new infant HIV infections annually across 70 countries. Countries with the largest number of infant infections averted by contraception included South Africa (9,441), Nigeria (4,195), Kenya (3,508), Zimbabwe (2,586), and India (2,145). Preventing unintended births to WLHIV could avert an additional 43,768 new infant infections per year, with the greatest potential gains to be made in South Africa (12,036), Nigeria (2,770), Uganda (2,552), and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (2,324).
Conclusions: Contraception continues to play an integral role in global HIV prevention efforts in the era of increasing HIV treatment coverage, especially in sub-Saharan Africa. Broad contraceptive availability, increased contraceptive voluntarism and method mix are key components to preventing unintended births and ending new infant HIV infections worldwide.