The balance between the risk of transmission of HIV through breastfeeding and its life saving benefits complicates decisions about infant feeding among HIV-positive mothers.
Objective: The aim of this study was to assess the knowledge, attitudes and practices of infant feeding among HIV-positive mothers attending the prevention of mother-to-child transmission services at the Queen Mamohato Memorial health facilities Maseru, Lesotho.
Method and setting: This observational, cross-sectional study collected data from HIV-positive mothers attending clinics in Maseru using a standardised questionnaire.The study sample consisted of 191 HIV-positive mothers with infants between 2 weeks and 6 months of age. The analysis involved describing the demographic profile of the mothers, the information and education received on PMTCT infant-feeding options, and their knowledge, attitudes and practices of infant feeding.
Results: The majority (96%) of the study participants knew about the prevention of mother-to-child transmission services as related to breastfeeding. Most chose to breastfeed (89%) while only 8% formula-fed their infants. Knowledge received during the prevention of mother-to-child-transmission programme was significantly associated with the decision to exclusively breastfeed their infants. Earlier infant-feeding counselling for mothers showed a greater impact on the decision to exclusively breastfeed as compared to those with late information (p< 0.001).
Conclusion: The study found that HIV-positive mothers attending health facilities in Maseru, Lesotho had high knowledge, and appropriate attitudes and practices with respect to infant feeding; The role play by the mother-in-law’s or other key family member, in making correct choice and adherence to feed the expose infant in the first six months cannot be overemphasised.