HIV Infection, Reproduction and Parenting

By Mária Panagos.

Published by The Social Sciences Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This paper presents some findings of empirical research undertaken with women of childbearing age investigating their perceptions of reproduction within an HIV testing context. The objective was to explore how they think of their reproductive options and how these may be affected by the significance of HIV infection in their lives. The sample comprises women who have been HIV tested with a negative or a positive result and women who have not been HIV tested. The theoretical framework of social constructionism was adopted to examine the techniques and strategies they employed in building accounts and managing interactions, and to analyse their interpretations of the notions of ‘reproduction’, ‘rights’ and ‘HIV testing’. Interviewees linked HIV infection with notions of ‘informed consent’, ‘privacy and confidentiality’, and ‘moral order’ in relation to reproductive choices in everyday life and in antenatal HIV testing context in particular. Their use of language revealed that there is a hierarchy of acceptance to parenting among HIV+ people depending on timing knowing of an HIV positive status, gender and whether having previously children or being nulliparous. All women, regardless of their serostatus, regarded reproduction as both a stigmatised and risky business; specifically, they related constructs of ‘stigma-risk’ - as a two-sided coin - embedded into ‘maternity and paternity’ choices in all circumstances within an HIV context. However, unlike women of a non-known or a negative serostatus, positive women and health professionals, due to their experience of either living with HIV infection and/or their active involvement within the HIV field, spoke of the attachment of stigma as being rooted onto HIV infection, though they did not attach stigma to HIV+ people’s reproductive and parenting decisions.

Keywords: HIV Infection, Women, Reproductive Rights

International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, Volume 4, Issue 2, pp.115-130. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.181MB).

Dr. Mária Panagos

Academic Tutor, INTO Newcastle University, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK

Specialised on issues of health and illness within the contexts of medical sociology and counselling psychology – with a focus on HIV infection and reproduction. In particular, interested in HIV/Aids including pre-test & post-test counselling; adherence; public health, infertility counselling; assisted reproduction. Currently, trainee in clinical psychological assessments (personality tests), and psychotherapy.


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