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MAPUTLE, MS  and  JALI, MN. Pregnant women's knowledge about Mother-to-Child Transmission (MTCT) of HIV infection through breast feeding. Curationis [online]. 2008, vol.31, n.1, pp.45-51. ISSN 2223-6279.

The HIV and AIDS epidemic in South Africa has reached serious proportions. Over 5, 5 million South Africans are infected with HIV (Department of Health, 2004:10). Mother to Child Transmission (MTCT) is a well-established mode of HIV transmission and these infections may occur during pregnancy, labour, delivery and breastfeeding. According to the Department of Health (2000:2), breastfeeding constitutes a significant risk of MTCT HIV transmission. Studies in Africa have also shown that breast-feeding increases the risk of MTCT by 12%-43% (Department of Health, 2000:13;Department of Health, 2000:3). Since breastfeeding is a significant and preventable mode of HIV transmission to infants, there is an urgent need to educate, counsel and support women and families to make informed decisions about how best to feed their infants in the context of HIV. To achieve a reduction in MTCT, there is an urgent need to empower women with information on MTCT for informed decision-making. However, cultural factors and the stigma associated with HIV and AIDS might contribute to limited knowledge about MTCT through breastfeeding. The aim of the study was to determine pregnant women's knowledge about MTCT of HIV/AIDS infection through breastfeeding. Findings of the study will be used to update the existing health education programmes in the field of Maternal and Child Health. The design was a descriptive research survey. The population consisted of 100 pregnant women. Convenience sampling was used to select mothers during antenatal visits at a particular clinic at Polokwane municipality. Self-constructed questionnaires were translated into Northern Sotho and distributed to the women. Data analysis used descriptive statistics. The findings of the study revealed a high level of awareness of HIV and AIDS and a low level of knowledge about MTCT of HIV and AIDS infection through breastfeeding. Based on the conclusions, a revised health education programme was proposed for the Maternal and Child Health field.

Keywords : Pregnant; Breast feeding; HIV/AIDS.

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