Factors Associated with Choice of Infant Feeding Practices among HIV-1 Positive Post-natal Clinic Attendees in Tharaka Nithi County

Joyceline G. Kinyua, Raphael W. Lihana, Michael K. Kiptoo, Joseph Mwangi, Vincent Okoth, Rosebella Onyango, Pauline Andang’o


Background: Feeding practices for HIV-exposed infants plays a key role in determining the risk of morbidity and mortality. Infected mothers’ choice of infant feeding is influenced by many factors within the community hence challenging their decisions. We sought to determine factors associated with choice of HIV exposed infant feeding practices in the region. Methods: Two hundred and forty nine HIV infected mothers were systematically recruited.  Data on infant HIV status was obtained from facility records. Respondents were interviewed using a semi-structured questionnaire. Focus group discussions and key informant interviews were carried out to support primary data. Analysis was done using SPSS version 16.0. Logistic regression was used to determine association of factors that influenced choice of infant feeding practice. Results: Of the 249 respondents, 98% chose exclusively breastfeeding during prenatal counseling but majority did not sustain beyond 2 months, while replacement feeding was least practiced (2%) postnatal. Major factors that influenced feeding practices were mother’s education (OR 2.637; CI: 1.088-6.388), non-health care workers advise (OR 3.053; CI: 1.706-5.463), not belonging to support groups (OR 2.804; CI: 1.620-4.854) rejection of health care workers support (OR 3.386; CI: 1.937-5.919). Conclusion: Although exclusive breastfeeding was the preferred feeding choice among the respondents immediately after birth, it was not sustained beyond the second month of the infant’s life. Increased contact of HIV positive women with health care workers and professionals through promotion of trust in community health workers, attendance of ANC and delivery in hospital should be promoted.  Education efforts should also target non health care persons who influence feeding practices to reduce stigma among HIV positive mothers.

Keywords:  Infant feeding practices; Stigma

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