Views of Women Regarding Infant Feeding Practices of HIV Exposed Children in Vhembe District, Limpopo Province South Africa

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Patrone Rebecca Risenga, DipNsg, BACur, HonsCur, MACur, MHPE, DCur
Health Studies, University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa

Purpose: South Africa consists of many cultural groups who manage pregnancy and lactation differently. Infant feeding is one of the best practices to promote life and reduce infant mortality rates that are escalating due to various issues including HIV/AIDS. HIV infection can be spread from mother to child during pregnancy, labour and delivery and as well as during breastfeeding. During PMTCT programme women are advised on feeding options such as breast feeding, and advised on measures to reduce the spread of HIV during the feeding process. The aim is to ensure zero HIV infections in new-born babies from 2015. South Africa has 5.6 million people who are HIV positive including children. Parents have choice of choosing the feeding method deemed to be relevant and appropriate for them within their communities. It is not surprising that mothers of new-born infants are somewhat bewildered by what constitutes best practice, and hence they are highly susceptible to the (ill) advice of individual health workers or family members. There is scant literature on how choices are made and what influences change more specifically amongst the Tsonga speaking people in Limpopo Province, South Africa. The purpose of the study was to describe the views of women regarding infant feeding practices of HIV exposed children in Vhembe District, Limpopo Province South Africa

Methods: This study adopted a qualitative approach using an exploratory, descriptive and contextual design in order to explore and describe the views of women regarding infant feeding practices of HIV exposed children. A non-probability purposive sampling was used. The target population was females between 20 and 35 years, who are having new-born babies between one month and a year. All of them were Tsonga speaking people and were interviewed in Xitsonga. They were from three different villages in Vhembe District Limpopo Province.

Results: Three themes emerged from the findings of women with regards to infant feeding practices.

- Community reactions and in-laws regarding infant feeding fuelling the spread of HIV to infants and new-born babies as well as children.

- Mothers have mixed reactions regarding feeding options

- Physical problems experienced by mothers who are breastfeeding


Conclusion: The use of the findings will contribute to the reduction of HIV and AIDS by promoting the use of correct infant feeding options by mothers and other members in the communities: