Infant feeding practices among mothers with and without HIV in Western Cape, South Africa


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Høgskolen i Oslo og Akershus

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Master i samfunnsernæring


The HIV prevalence in adults and children in South Africa is high. South Africa is also a country where the breastfeeding rate is low and the child mortality rate is high. HIV-infected mothers have to weigh the risk of mother-to-child transmission of HIV (MTCT) through breastfeeding versus the risk of other diseases from formula feeding when choosing infant feeding practice. In 2007 researches conducted a third and last wave in a panel survey in Khayelitsha. In the last wave questions on infant feeding as well as a qualitative investigation were added. In this master thesis data on infant feeding among 58 HIV-infected mothers (KSPS) and 106 mothers without HIV or with unknown HIV status (KPS) were analysed. Qualitative in-depth interviews in other townships in Western Cape with three female doctors and nine HIV-infected mothers were added to complement the quantitative data. The main objective was to describe the infant feeding practices of HIV-infected mothers and mothers without HIV or with unknown HIV status living in Western Cape. Secondary objectives were to investigate what advice the mothers had been given about infant feeding when they were pregnant and their knowledge about MTCT and infant feeding. The percentage of HIV-infected mothers who had been advised to give infant formula and who had been giving formula was high. Among mothers without HIV or with unknown HIV status, on the other hand, a large proportion had been advised to breastfeed and had breastfed their infants. In Western Cape infant formula was supported and provided for HIV-infected mothers while non-infected mothers were recommended to breastfeed exclusively. This might explain the differences between the two groups of mothers.


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