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HIV and Replacement in Zimbabwe

A study examining parents in Zimbabwe, where twenty-five percent of adults were HIV positive in the twenty-first century, revealed that parents who experienced the death of a child were reluctant to have another lest it too succumb. In

Zimbabwe childbearing is an important part of life, and children are considered essential to the relationships between mothers and fathers. Despite parent education and abstention from childbearing, the rate of mother-child HIV transmission has not decreased. Parents, however, stated that they would have fewer children given the rising mortality rates due to AIDS. Because both children and adults die as a result of AIDS, the replacement and insurance strategies are not viable methods of increasing or maintaining the size of families, particularly when a parent dies and there are fewer resources to care for surviving children. Instead many parents choose to focus on their living children and their own health. About thirty percent of children born to HIV positive mothers also contract HIV. Due to misunderstandings about the fatality of the virus and its transmission, when HIV positive parents have children who do not contract HIV, they mistakenly believe that they too are virus free and continue to have more children. The dynamic surrounding HIV’s unique effects, and lack of knowledge of how it is contracted, as well as the typical fertility responses to child mortality, confound reproductive decision making for Zimbabwean parents.23

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