PURPOSE: To determine whether mothers attending a primary health care (PHC) clinic in the Mpumalanga province, South Africa for post-delivery prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) follow-up care were adhering to the recommendation of exclusive infant-feeding practices, and to identify possible areas for improvement of the PMTCT of HIV services at the clinic.
SETTING: A municipal PHC clinic in White River, a semi-urban town in Mpumalanga, South Africa.
DESIGN: A cross-sectional descriptive study using a structured infant-feeding questionnaire.
SUBJECTS: All mothers attending the clinic for post-delivery PMTCT of HIV follow-up care during a four-month period from 1 November 2007 to 29 February 2008.
RESULTS: A total of 33 mothers with infants attended the clinic during the period. All 33 mothers took part in the questionnaire study. Thirty questionnaires were subsequently found suitable for analysis. The mothers were predominantly rural, with low levels of education and no formal employment. Their ages ranged from 22 to 42 years, with a mean of 30.7 years. Fifteen (50%) of the 30 mothers practised exclusive replacement feeding (ERF), 8 (27%) practised exclusive breast-feeding (EBF), and 7 (23%) practised mixed feeding.
CONCLUSION: More than three-quarters of the mothers practised the recommended exclusive infant-feeding methods for PMTCT of HIV, with ERF as the most popular choice. However, the infant-feeding practices could not be generalised as the attendance of mothers for post-delivery follow-up care at the clinic was very poor during the study period. This poor attendance was attributed to frequent non-availability of free formula milk for the programme. Better quality counselling is needed to further increase the adherence to exclusive infant-feeding practices, and to improve the uptake of post-delivery follow-up care.