Mother To Child Transmission (MTCT) of HIV is a major challenge in Sub-Saharan Africa due to a variety of socio-economic and political factors. In South Africa, for example, there was element of denialism by government on the fact that treatment could assist in reducing the likelihood of transmitting the virus to the baby. It was only in 2001 after the Treatment Action Campaign took the South African government to court that they were ordered to develop a programme to prevent the transmission of HIV from mother to child. The South African government established a PMTCT programme that aligned itself with the United Nations’ Millennium Goal of ensuring that all HIV positive pregnant women receive treatment in an effort to eliminate babies born with HIV.
This study, therefore, explored the experiences of HIV positive mothers who enrolled on PMTCT programme at Tonga hospital. The researcher explored the participants’ understanding of the programme prior to enrolment, the extent to which they experienced the programme, the nature of support and services they received while on the programme as well as challenges they faced. All this was done with the intention and commitment to strengthening the intervention strategies for the HIV pregnant women, thereby ensuring that they receive top quality services from a group of multi skilled professionals.
To achieve this, the study applied a collective case study within a qualitative approach. The population for the study was HIV positive mothers who enrolled on the PMTCT programme between June 2011 and July 2012. The sample consisted of 12 HIV positive mothers who took part in the PMTCT programme at Tonga hospital. For data collection purposes, the researcher applied semi-structured interview.
Informed by the findings, the study concluded that there is lack of knowledge and understanding of the programme in the community. It further established that the clinic is situated under the ward where HIV positive patients are treated and that psycho social services are not offered to the HIV positive pregnant women. It also concluded that the women’s husbands or partners are not encouraged to be part of the programme.
Consistent with the above, the study recommended that the PMTCT programme should be provided in a holistic and well integrated manner, where all health care disciplines contribute as required to make the participants’ experiences on the programme more comfortable both socially and emotionally. There should be a way to get the male counterparts of the participants more involved in the programme so as to afford them the opportunity to get first-hand information about pregnancy and what is expected of them as partners. Each health worker’s role should be clearly defined and a referral system be developed so that all services are easily accessible.