Boosting comprehensive women’s health care in Sub-Saharan Africa

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To stem the spread of HIV among women in Sub-Saharan Africa and to boost their overall health and the health of their families, it’s crucial to improve not just HIV care but also reproductive and maternal health services — and to knit the services together — according to a series of new papers in the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes (JAIDS).

The 13 articles in the supplement, published online December 1, 2014 to coincide with World AIDS Day, were co-edited by four faculty members at Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH).

While reproductive care, maternal care, and HIV care are frequently siloed, evidence from the new articles suggests strongly that providing more integrated care is key to addressing the multiple needs of women of reproductive age in Sub-Saharan Africa, where the HIV pandemic thrives. Of all pregnancies of women living with HIV worldwide, 90 percent occur in the African subcontinent. And in some Sub-Saharan African countries the health burden is particularly high; roughly 1 in 3 pregnant women in South Africa, Botswana, and Swaziland are living with HIV.