This study explored beliefs and actual practices of
young women on utilization of Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission
(PMTCT) of HIV services in Balaka district of Southern Malawi. The study design
wascross sectional which utilized qualitative data collection and analysis
methods. In-depth interviews were conducted on 12 young mothers of 15 to 24 years old.
The respondents were drawn from 6 health centres in the district during their
visits to either the under-five clinic, HIV and AIDS support groups or HIV
follow up clinics. Data were analyzed using thematic analysis approach. Overall the respondents had positive beliefs
on utilization of PMTCT services. They believed that adherence to PMTCT
guidelines such as condom use, taking of Nevirapine (NVP) and exclusive
breastfeeding protected the baby from contracting the virus. Nevertheless, all
respondents believed that HIV testing was mandatory and that early weaning
caused malnutrition and death of babies. Actual practice was very low. Very few
young mothers breastfed exclusively, weaned their babies abruptly and took NVP
as recommended. Not all positive beliefs translated into positive behavior.
Lack of male support, inability of the midwives to provide comprehensive care
to HIV infected mothers and their infants, and fear of stigma and
discrimination were other factors that hindered utilization of PMTCT services.
Culture was also a major barrier because traditionally babies are expected to
be breastfed and supplements are fed to babies too. Therefore, there is a need
to mobilize communities on PMTCT
of HIV. Education programmes in HIV should emphasize
behavior change interventions and should focus on both men and women and
significant others. There is also need to intensify monitoring and evaluation
of health workers’ activities to ensure that beliefs translate into positive
Cite this paper
Muheriwa, S. , Chimwaza, A. , Maluwa, A. , Nyasulu, B. and Pindani, M. (2013) Beliefs and practices of young women on utilization of prevention of mother to child transmission of HIV services in Malawi. Health
, 1172-1179. doi: 10.4236/health.2013.57158
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