This month, Pangaea published a paper in a preeminent journal of women’s health, Reproductive Health Matters. This paper summarizes data from Pangaea’s SHAZ! Project, a study working to increase access to HIV services and improve health outcomes for adolescent women living with HIV in Zimbabwe. Findings highlight the complex and critical nature of disclosure of HIV status among this age group to achieve good HIV and reproductive health outcomes. Programs and services must do more to help young women living with HIV negotiate the complexities of disclosure in the context of achieving desired fertility.

Abstract: In the Shona culture of Zimbabwe, a high regard for childbearing contributes to strong pressures on women to have children. For young women living with HIV, consequently, disclosure of HIV status can be a central strategy to garner support for controlling fertility. This paper reports findings from qualitative interviews with 28 young women aged 16–20 living with HIV in urban Zimbabwe and discusses how these findings can contribute to better policies and programs for this population. Regardless of their current relationship status, interview participants described disclosure as a turning point in romantic partnerships, recounting stressful experiences with major ramifications such as abuse and abandonment on the one hand, and support and love on the other. All but one participant had been in a committed relationship, and most had disclosed to a previous or current partner, with about half of disclosure experiences resulting in adverse reactions. Findings suggest that sexual and reproductive health services must do more to help young women living with HIV negotiate the complexities of disclosure in the context of achieving desired fertility. © 2012 Reproductive Health Matters

Full article available at: www.rhm-elsevier.com