African Journal of AIDS and HIV Research

African Journal of AIDS and HIV Research ISSN 2326-2691 Vol. 7 (3), pp. 001-009, March, 2019. © International Scholars Journals

Full Length Research Paper

Factors influencing the choices of infant feeding of HIV-positive mothers in Southern Ghana: The role of counsellors, mothers, families and socio-economic status

Suuk Alexander Laar1* and Veloshnee Govender2

1Research and Development Division, Ghana Health Service, Post Office Box MB-190. Accra-Ghana.

2Health Economics Unit, School of Public Health and Family Medicine University of Cape Town, South Africa.

Accepted 08 January, 2019

Abstract

The study assessed the perspectives of HIV-positive mothers and family members (grand-mothers and fathers) of the infant feeding options recommended for HIV-infected mothers in Ghana. This entailed individual interviews with 40 HIV-positive mothers with infants aged 0 to 12 months and 6 focus group discussions with HIV-positive mothers, fathers and grandmothers of unknown status in two urban districts. All infants born to HIV-positive mothers in both districts had been breastfed. Breastfeeding was initiated between three hours and three days following birth. While some of the infants had been exclusively breast-fed, none had been exclusively formula fed. Early mixed feeding patterns were deeply entrenched. Barriers to exclusive replacement feeding by HIV-positive mothers included cultural and familial influences, socio-economic factors including cost of infant formula, lack of access to fridges, clean water and fuel. Interventions designed to promote safer infant feeding among HIV-infected mothers in these settings need to be mindful of these barriers (socio-economic, cultural and familial) that these women face. Failure by policy makers to incorporate these issues will continue to lead to a gap between well-intended policies and programmes, and actual practices of HIV-positive mothers.

Key words: Cultural norms, HIV-positive mothers, socio-economic status, infant feeding.