oa South African Family Practice - The perceptions of pregnant women, attending antenatal clinics, on the prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV programme : original research



The prevalence of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection among women of reproductive age and children below the age of 15 years continues to increase, especially in the countries hardest hit by the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) epidemic.

A qualitative method was used to determine perceptions. It involved four focus group discussions among antenatal clinic attendees in the 27 primary healthcare clinics in Qwa-Qwa, Free State province, South Africa.
Participants indicated good knowledge about the prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV (PMTCT) programme. Participants expressed fears that included stopping the treatment after delivery, the family neglecting the baby if the mother died, stigma, discrimination and domestic violence. The majority of the participants were happy with their relationship with the clinic staff. More than half of the participants expected negative reactions from family members if they followed the programme advice, because of the negative attitudes of their male partners and the elders' resistance to change, owing to their cultural beliefs. Participants agreed that the programme provided adequate knowledge about HIV, modes of mother-to-child transmission of HIV, and how to prevent it.
The high level of knowledge among the participants could be attributed to the counselling and health talk sessions offered by clinic staff.


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