Factors influencing the utilisation of prevention of mother-to-child-transmission (PMTCT) services by pregnant women in the Eastern Cape, South Africa

  • J Peltzer
  • D Skinner
  • S Mfecane
  • O Shisana
  • A Nqeketo
  • T Mosala
Keywords: Utilization, PMTCT services, Eastern Cape, South Africa


The aim of the study was to identify factors influencing the utilisation of Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission (PMTCT) in a resource poor setting in South Africa. A sample of 186 pregnant women (29.6% HIV positive and 70.4% HIV negative) in four clinics in a rural district in the Eastern Cape were interviewed as part of the PMTCT programme after they had received their HIV test results. Regarding infrastructure, most women lacked transport to and communication with a health facility. More than 90% felt that they had received adequate information on most of the components of the PMTCT programme. About 90% of the women were satisfied with the HIV counselling they had received. Most women (54%) felt they would receive support during their pregnancy mainly from their mothers, and/or husband/partner (50%). Most pregnant women (92%) preferred to give birth in hospital, while 8% prefer to deliver at home, mostly with the assistance of a traditional birth attendant (TBA). Two-thirds of the HIV positive women stated they would feed their babies with formula milk only. Community attitudes towards people living with HIV/AIDS were mostly perceived as negative. Factors influencing the utilisation of PMTCT (that is the acceptance of antiretroviral therapy to HIV positive women, facility-based delivery, and adherence to “take-home” ART identified for mother and newborn), included: (1) HIV counselling by health care staff, (2) physical access to a health facility, (3) family and community support, (4) stigma, (5) delivery preference, and (6) infant feeding preferences.

Keywords: Utilization; PMTCT services; Eastern Cape; South Africa

Health SA Gesondheid Vol. 10 (1) 2005: pp. 26-40

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eISSN: 2071-9736
print ISSN: 1025-9848