Background: Adolescents living with HIV face challenges, such as disclosure of HIV status, adherence to antiretroviral therapy, mental health, and sexual and reproductive health (SRH). These challenges affect their future quality of life. However, little evidence is available on their sexual behaviors and SRH needs in Zambia. This study aimed at assessing their sexual behaviors and SRH needs and identifying factors associated with marriage concerns and a desire to have children. Methods: This cross-sectional study was conducted at the University Teaching Hospital from April to July 2014. We recruited 200 adolescents aged 15-19 years who were aware of their HIV-positive status. We collected data on their first and recent sexual behavior, concerns about marriage, and desire to have children. We used the Generalized Linear Model to identify factors associated with having concerns about marriage and desire to have children. We performed thematic analysis with open-ended data to determine their perceptions about marriage and having children in the future. Results: Out of 175 studied adolescents, 20.6% had experienced sexual intercourse, and only 44.4% used condoms during the first intercourse. Forty-eight percent had concerns about marriage, and 87.4% desired to have children. Marriage-related concerns were high among those who desired to have children (adjusted relative risk [ARR] = 2.51, 95% CI = 1.02 to 6.14). Adolescents who had completed secondary school were more likely to desire to have children (ARR = 1.35, 95% CI = 1.07 to 1.71). Adolescents who had lost both parents were less likely to want children (ARR = 0.80, 95% CI = 0.68 to 0.95). Thematic analysis identified that major concerns about future marriage were fear of disclosing HIV status to partners and risk of infecting partners and/or children. The reasons for their willingness to have children were the desire to be a parent, having children as family assets, a human right, and a source of love and happiness. Conclusions: Zambian adolescents living with HIV are at risk of engaging in risky sexual relationships and have difficulties in meeting needs of SRH. HIV care service must respond to a wide range of needs.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Reproductive Medicine
- Obstetrics and Gynaecology