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Title: Assessment of knowledge, attitudes and practices of infant feeding in the context of HIV: A case study from western Kenya
Authors: Wachira, Juddy
Otieno, Boaz
Ballidawa, Joyce
Braitstein, Paula
Keywords: HIV
Infant feeding
Issue Date: Nov-2009
Publisher: Ampath
Abstract: Guidelines for infant feeding options among HIV-positive mothers are changing with informative research. Cultural factors, socialisation processes, gender dimensions and socio-economic status within communities should be considered in recommending feasible and sustainable options. The objective of this study was to assess the knowledge, attitudes and practices with regards to infant feeding in the context of HIV. A cross-sectional study was conducted between November 2003 and January 2004. The study was carried out in Kosirai Division, Nandi-North District, in western Kenya. The target population was community members aged 18 - 45 years and key informants aged 18 years and above. Structured questionnaires and in-depth interviews were used to collect data. Multistage and snowball sampling methods were used to identify study participants. Quantitative data were analysed using the SPSS statistical package for social scientists (Version 12). Cross-tabulations were calculated and Pearson’s chi-square test used to test significance of relationships between categorical variables. Recorded qualitative data were transcribed and coded. Themes were developed and integrated. A generation of concepts was used to organise the presentation into summaries, interpretations and text. A total of 385 individuals participated in the survey, 50% of whom were women. There were 30 key informants. Farming was the main source of income but half of the women (49.7%) had no income. Most of the respondents (85.5%) knew of breastfeeding as a route of HIV transmission with sex (p=0.003) and age (p=0.000) being highly associated with this knowledge. Breastfeeding was the norm although exclusive breastfeeding was not practised. Cow’s milk, the main breast milk substitute, was reported as being given to infants as early as two weeks. It was the most popular (93.5%) infant feeding option in the context of HIV/AIDS. Heating expressed milk, wet nursing and milk banks were least preferred. Thus, the social, cultural and psychological complexity of infant feeding practices should be taken into account when advocating appropriate infant feeding options. Further research is required to determine the safety of using cow’s milk as an infant feeding option. Community engagement, including education and awareness strategies, specific to the benefits of exclusive breastfeeding as a mechanism to reduce the risk of HIV transmission is urgently needed.
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