Mother-to-child transmission of HIV (MTCT) is responsible for more than 90% of the cases of HIV infection in infants and children in sub-Saharan Africa. Accurate data on the knowledge and perceptions of HIV/AIDS among women attending antenatal clinics in Nigeria are scarce. A cross-sectional survey of 804 women attending antenatal clinics in Ogun State, South-West Nigeria was done using interviewer-administered questionnaires. Approximately 90% of the women respondents had heard of HIV/AIDS, but only about 27% knew HIV could be transmitted from mother to child; of those, almost 94% believed in the reality of HIV disease; in contrast, the majority (64%) believed they were not at risk of HIV infection, and a slightly greater proportion (70%) did not understand the benefits of voluntary HIV counselling and testing (VCT). Nonetheless, almost 90% of respondents were willing to know their status following health education about VCT. Those that were older, attending public hospitals, and with a higher level of education had more knowledge and better perceptions about HIV. The results suggest an urgent need for public health education on HIV/AIDS and the benefits of VCT to control MTCT, particularly targeting young women and those with little or no education.
Keywords: access to healthcare, Africa, attitudes, mother-to-child transmission of HIV, voluntary counselling and testing
African Journal of AIDS Research 2006, 5(3): 273–279