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HIV Status and Infertility Appear Linked in Sub-Saharan Africa

October 16 , 2013
by: ASRM Office of Public Affairs
Published in ASRM Press Release

HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE INTERNATIONAL FEDERATION OF FERTILITY SOCIETIES 21st WORLD CONGRESS ON FERTILITY AND STERILITY AND THE 69th ANNUAL MEETING OF THE AMERICAN SOCIETY FOR REPRODUCTIVE MEDICINE

Boston, MA-  A systematic literature review presented at the conjoint meeting of the International Federation of Fertility Societies and the American Society for Reproductive Medicine led to several insights about the relationship between HIV and fertility in women in Sub-Saharan Africa.  With only a few exceptions, women who are HIV+ have reduced fecundity compared to those who are HIV-.   The researchers hypothesize that limited access to treatment in the region may predispose couples to riskier sexual behavior, increasing their exposure to HIV; or pre-existing HIV infection.

Researchers from the University of California San Francisco and Albert Einstein College of Medicine identified 28 relevant studies finding that women who present for prenatal care are less likely to have HIV than an age-matched segment of the general population.  Among the other findings:  women with infertility had a higher prevalence of HIV compared to age-matched controls; some studies found an exception among a younger age group, with 15 to 19 year old pregnant  women having a greater likelihood of being HIV+ than age-matched controls; however, when high risk sexual behavior was controlled for, the association was no longer significant.

More study is needed to determine the timing of the HIV infection in relation to infertility to help determine the causal relationship.

Professor Joe Leigh Simpson, IFFS President, said, “This work links HIV status and lower fertility, with the possibility that, in the absence of available treatment, some infertile men and women are undertaking riskier sexual behavior in an attempt to get pregnant.

The authors are careful, and recommend that more work be done before this can be confirmed, but the implication that untreated infertility is indirectly leading to an increased HIV infection rate needs to be taken seriously. Greater access to fertility treatment may save the lives of some men and women.”

P-598  Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and Infertility in Sub-Saharan Africa
E. Bunderson et al
 

Representing more than 50 fertility societies from around the globe, the International Federation of Fertility Societies (IFFS) is the world’s principal international fertility organization. The IFFS was founded in 1951, and held its first congress in New York in 1953. The IFFS mission is to stimulate basic and clinical research, disseminate education and encourage superior clinical care of patients in infertility and reproductive medicine. Website: http://www.iffs-reproduction.org/ 

The American Society for Reproductive Medicine, founded in 1944, is an organization of more than 7,000 physicians, researchers, nurses, technicians and other professionals dedicated to advancing knowledge and expertise in reproductive biology.  Affiliated societies include the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology, the Society for Male Reproduction and Urology, the Society for Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility, the Society of Reproductive Surgeons and the Society of Reproductive Biologists and Technologists.


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