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Afr J Reprod Health. 2004 Aug;8(2):64-70.

Are public antenatal clinics in Blantyre, Malawi, ready to offer services for the prevention of vertical transmission of HIV?

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Department of Community Health, University of Malawi College of Medicine, Blantyre, Malawi.


At least 100% of the adult population in Malawi is infected with HIV and vertical transmission is a major mode of transmission. Currently, there are plans to provide widespread antiretroviral therapy to prevent mother to child transmission of HIV. This study was conducted to describe the perceptions of midwives towards selected issues regarding prevention of mother to child transmission of HIV in eleven public health centres in Blantyre, Malawi. A cross-sectional study using a self-administered questionnaire incorporating both open-ended and closed-ended questions was used. Twenty seven midwives participated in the study. Less than half (40.7%), of them reported working at a baby friendly hospital initiative health facility, while 96.3% reported that they would advise an HIV infected woman to breastfeed her infant. HIV prevention messages were reportedly offered routinely by 77.8% of the respondents, but only 22.2% reported that their clinics offered condoms to pregnant women. Also, only 37.0% reported offering routine STI screening, while 37.0% of the midwives would support antenatal women being accompanied by their male partners Majority (81.2%) said that women who know they are HIV infected should not become pregnant, while 37.0% reported that they would be uncomfortable to assist in the delivery of an HIV infected woman. There was lack of appropriate clinic space and sterile gloves for the proper delivery of maternity services. Midwives in Malawi need training, supervision and other support to provide adequate health care services to antenatal women.

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