This study uses focus group data from women of reproductive age to investigate whether and how women’s fertility intentions and prevention strategies are changing in response to the Zika virus (ZIKV) epidemic in Brazil. Our findings indicate that many women fear the intrauterine consequences of ZIKV infection. Women of low socioeconomic status commonly report not desiring more children irrespective of the epidemic, but also report facing obstacles to using contraception. Women of high status report wanting to postpone pregnancy in light of the epidemic and making a more concerted effort to use contraception, sometimes changing contraceptive method. Some older high-status women who have not completed their desired fertility report actively trying to conceive during the epidemic, doing so primarily during the dry season when mosquito infestation is lowest. Many women report considering or resorting to abortion if they have been infected with ZIKV.
Published in a peer-reviewed journal of the Population Council. Leticia Marteleto is Associate Professor, Department of Sociology and Population Research Center, University of Texas at Austin. Abigail Weitzman is Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology and Population Research Center, University of Texas at Austin. Raquel Zanatta Coutinho is Postdoctoral Researcher, Center for Regional Development and Planning (Cedeplar), Federal University of Minas Gerais, Brazil. Sandra Valongueiro Alves is Researcher, School of Social Medicine, Federal University of Pernambuco and Microcephaly Epidemic Research Group (MERG), Brazil.