HIV prevention of mother to child transmission communication strategies: A case study of Chelstone Township in Lusaka
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Pediatric AIDS in Africa remains a major problem as it accounts for over 90% of HIV infections in children under the age of 15 years. While progress has been made with regard to Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission of HIV (PMTCT), progress has been more modest on other programmatic aspects of the PMTCT Global Plan, including primary HIV prevention for women and the unmet need for family planning services among women living with HIV continues to undermine efforts to eliminate new HIV infections among children. This study assessed communication sources, messages and channels being used for PMTCT communication at Chelston clinic of Lusaka district in Zambia. A sample of 100 women of child bearing age was systematically selected for interviews as well as 6 health personnel from Chelston clinic. Findings were then processed and analyzed using Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) and content analysis. Results of the study indicate that Chelston clinic is using PMTCT messages from credible sources and that the PMTCT messages are consistent on Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) adherence, exclusive breastfeeding and the need for HIV testing. However, other key PMTCT messages are not being addressed adequately. Mainly interpersonal and group communication is being used at the health centre while mass media is rarely used. Most of the respondents obtained PMTCT information from the health centre and when it came to use of mass media, radio was the most preferred communication channel. Further, the clinic had challenges with male involvement, limited space and number of antenatal drop outs. In view of the research findings, it is recommended that Chelston clinic exploits alternative communication channels to complement interpersonal communication, involve both men and women from the community at every stage of PMTCT communication so as to encourage community participation, and finally the Lusaka District Health Management Team (LDHMT) is encouraged to facilitate continuous training for community health workers who mainly are engaged in PMTCT communication so as to keep them abreast with information and motivate them to communicate effectively with communities. With the recommended interventions, it is hoped that PMTCT results at Chelston clinic will be enhanced to a level that will facilitate realization of the elimination of mother –to- child transmission of HIV in Chelston and Zambia at large.