Table of Contents

Handbook on Gender and Health

Handbook on Gender and Health

International Handbooks on Gender series

Edited by Jasmine Gideon

This Handbook brings together a groundbreaking collection of chapters that uses a gender lens to explore health, healthcare and health policy in both the Global South and North. Empirical evidence is drawn from a variety of different settings and points to the many ways in which the gendered dimensions of health have become reworked across the globe.

Chapter 32: Positive women managing reproduction in the HIV pandemic

Lesley Doyal

Subjects: development studies, family and gender policy, social policy and sociology, family and gender policy, health policy and economics


Very little has been written about the subjective experiences of pregnancy and childbirth among HIV positive women. In the early years of the pandemic it was assumed that very few of these women would want or be able to have children. However the rapid spread of heterosexually transmitted HIV infection in low- and middle-income countries alongside the increasing availability of anti-retroviral therapy (ART) changed the situation dramatically. Research then began on the implications of HIV for pregnancy and childbirth, but the focus was mainly on the protection of the foetus, with the needs and experiences of the women themselves receiving little attention. This chapter begins to fill that gap through a review of the biological, psychological and social challenges faced by HIV positive women in the context of reproductive decision-making and the complex processes of pregnancy and childbirth.

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