A qualitative study exploring attitudes and perceptions of HIV positive women who stopped breastfeeding at six months to prevent transmission of HIV to their children
The study explored knowledge, attitudes and practices of HIV positive women who were instructed to stop breastfeeding at 6 months to prevent the transmission of HIV to their children.
We used qualitative methods consisting of key informant interviews (KII), critical incidence narratives (CINs), focus group discussions (FGDs) and observations for data collection. The subjects were recruited at regular PMTCT clinics after consenting to participate in the study.
Some women had a fair understanding of exclusive breastfeeding and its role in preventing the transmission of HIV from the mother to the child. However, uptake of services and adherence to exclusive breast feeding (EBF) were hindered by social stigma, discrimination, misconceptions, and fear of rejection by spouses.
Addressing social stigma, discrimination, misconceptions and male involvement should be part and parcel of PMTCT programming in order to ensure success. The recent introduction of option B+, in which all pregnant HIV positive women will be started on anti-retroviral treatment, regardless of their CD4 cell count, will perhaps encourage women to adhere to EBF and weaning at six months.