BACKGROUND: Male injecting drug users drove the onset of the HIV epidemic in Indonesia but over time more women have been diagnosed. We examined the relative proportion of female patients in an HIV cohort and characterized their probable transmission route and reproductive profile.
DESIGNS: Prospective cohort study in a referral hospital in West Java.
METHODS: Interviews with standardized questionnaires, physical and laboratory examinations were done for 2622 individuals enrolled in HIV care between 2007 and 2012. The proportion of women in this cohort was compared with national estimates. The general characteristics of HIV-infected women and men as well as the sexual and reproductive health of HIV-infected women were described.
RESULTS: The proportion of female patients enrolled in HIV care increased from 22.2 % in 2007 to 38.3 % in 2012, in line with national estimates. Women were younger than men, fewer reported a history of IDU (16.1 vs. 73.8 %, p < 0.001) and more were tested for HIV because of a positive partner (25.5 vs. 4.0 %, p < 0.001). The majority of women were in their reproductive age, had children, and were not using contraceptives at the time of enrolment.
CONCLUSION: HIV-infected women in Indonesia have specific characteristics that differ them from women in the general population. Further research to elucidate the characteristics of women exposed to HIV, their access to testing and care and sexual and reproductive needs can help reduce transmission to women and children in the context of concentrated HIV epidemic in Indonesia.