Unintended Repeat Pregnancies Among HIV Positive Women in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil

Bernardo B. Wittlin1, Alice W. Carvalho1, Giulia P. Lima1, Rune Andersson2, Susanne Johansson2, Elizabeth S. Machado1, Tomaz P. Da Costa1, Cristina B. Hofer1, *
1 Department of Preventive Medicine - Instituto de Puericultura e Pediatria Martagão Gesteira, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
2 Department of Infectious Diseases, Institute of Biomedicine, Sahlgrenska Academy, Gothenburg University, Gothenburg, Sweden

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© 2018 Wittlin et al.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Department of Preventive Medicine - Instituto de Puericultura e Pediatria Martagão Gesteira, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Tel: 55-21-39382556; E-mail:



High rates of unintended pregnancies among HIV positive women have been reported by several studies. Among repeated pregnancies, these rates may be higher. Our aim was to describe the unintended pregnancy rate in repeat gestations of the same group of HIV-positive women.


From a prospective cohort of HIV-infected pregnant women followed-up from 1995 to 2013 in an Antenatal Clinic (ANC) in Rio de Janeiro, we selected women who had at least two consecutive pregnancies. Patient data were prospectively obtained from standardized questionnaires. The main dependent variable was if the pregnancy was intended or unintended. Some of the other variables were: age, the interval between pregnancies, household income, CD4 cells count at admission in the ANC and at delivery, viral load<1000 copies/ml at admission and close to delivery, and attempts to illegal abortion.


From a total of 287 women included, the number of unintended pregnancies increased from 138 (63.6%) at first pregnancy to 198 (81.8%) at second pregnancy (p < 0.01). At first pregnancy, we observed 8 women who had made an attempt to illegal abortion (7 with an unintended pregnancy and 1 with a wanted pregnancy, p = 0.06), while at second pregnancy, 34 of them had made an attempt (33 with unintended pregnancy and 1 with a wanted pregnancy, p < 0.01). Regarding viral load suppression close to delivery, there was no statistic difference between first and second pregnancies (72,7% vs. 70,5%, p = 0.36) as well as between intended and unintended pregnancies (in first pregnancy: 80% vs. 86%, p = 0.4; in second pregnancy: 72% vs. 83%, p = 0,1).


High rates of unintended pregnancies and illegal abortion attempts, along with their increase from one pregnancy to the subsequent, reinforce the need for continuous family planning practices in HIV-infected patients. The majority of the women were able to reach undetectable viral load at the end of the pregnancy, including those with unintended pregnancies.


HIV infected patients presenting in antenatal care for sequential unintended pregnancies. Despite the fact that abortion is illegal in this country, a substantial number of women, still attempt it before attending antenatal care. Family planning actions should be performed during the antenatal care.

Keywords: Unintended, Unwanted, Pregnancy, HIV, Brazil, Illegal abortion.