19 September 2014
Mother-to-child transmission (MTCT) of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) remains the major source of HIV infection in young children. Targeting pregnant women attending antenatal clinics provide a unique opportunity for implementing prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) programmes against HIV infection of newborn babies. This study aimed to investigate factors associated with the acceptability and utilization of PMTCT of HIV.
An institution based cross-sectional study was conducted in April 2010 using exit interviews with 843 pregnant women attending antenatal care (ANC) clinics of 10 health centers and two hospitals in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Trained nurses administered structured questionnaires to collect data on socio-demographic characteristics, knowledge about MTCT, practice of HIV testing and satisfaction with the antenatal care services. Six focus group discussions among pregnant women and 22 in-depth interviews with service providers complemented the quantitative data.
About 94% of the pregnant women visited the health facility for ANC check-up. Only 18% and 9% of respondents attended the facility for HIV counselling and testing (HCT) and receiving antiretroviral prophylaxis, respectively. About 90% knew that a mother with HIV can pass the virus to her child, and MTCT through breast milk was commonly cited by most women (72.4%) than transmission during pregnancy (49.7%) or delivery (49.5%). About 94% of them reported that they were tested for HIV in the current pregnancy and 60% replied that their partners were also tested for HIV. About 80% of the respondents reported adequacy of privacy and confidentiality during counseling (90.8% at hospitals and 78.6% at health centers), but 16% wished to have a different counselor. Absence of counselors, poor counselling, lack of awareness and knowledge about HCT, lack of interest and psychological unpreparedness were the main reasons cited for not undergoing HIV testing during the current pregnancy.
HIV testing among ANC attendees and knowledge about MTCT of HIV was quite high. Efforts should be made to improve the quality and coverage of HCT services and mitigate the barriers preventing mothers from seeking HIV testing. Further research should be conducted to evaluate the uptake of antiretroviral prophylaxis among HIV-positive pregnant women attending ANC clinics.