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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

Petrie K.E.M. ; Schmidt S.D. ; Schwarz C.E. ; Koornhof H.E. ; Marais D. (2007)


Objective. 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), Method. A descriptive study was conducted using an administered, structured questionnaire. Subjects and setting. 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. Results. 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 (p < 0.1). Conclusion. 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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