oa South African Journal of Clinical Nutrition - Knowledge, attitudes and practices of women regarding the prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) programme at the Vanguard Community Health Centre, Western Cape - a pilot study



. The aim of the study was to determine the knowledge, attitudes and practices of women regarding the prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) programme at a community health centre (CHC).

. A descriptive study was conducted using an administered, structured questionnaire.
. Thirty-six educated women aged 18 - 39 years and attending the clinic took part. Participants were from informal settlements and mostly unemployed, receiving government grants.
. The majority (88.9%) scored 80% or more with regard to general HIV knowledge. Although the majority (78%) were formula feeding, primarily owing to their HIV status and convenience while working, 24% would not be able to sustain this feeding method after the initial 6 months' free supply provided by the provincial health services. The majority could not define the terms exclusive breastfeeding (89%), mixed feeding (81%) or cup feeding (94%) correctly. Attitudes were found to be positive with regard to both breastfeeding and formula feeding, but HIV status influenced it significantly ( < 0.1).
. In conclusion, certain aspects of the PMTCT programme appear to have been effective at the CHC included in this study. The women were knowledgeable about HIV transmission and mother-to-child transmission (MTCT), but they were uninformed about certain essential aspects, i.e. prevention, cure and infant feeding. Attitudes were similar towards breastmilk or formula milk as a feeding choice but were influenced by HIV status. It was indicated that an informed decision-making process was not followed, rather that the women were advised to formula feed. Sustainability of formula feeding after 6 months and training of health workers specifically regarding feeding options need to be addressed.


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