The rising prevalence of HIV among pregnant women in rural India is of great concern. Prenatal voluntary counseling and HIV testing (VCT) is critical to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV (PMTCT). We surveyed 202 pregnant women attending a rural antenatal clinic in Southern India to investigate HIV-related knowledge, attitudes toward infant feeding practices, and perceived benefits and risks of HIV testing. Of the total of 202 women surveyed, 189 women (94%) had heard of HIV/AIDS and 60% of them had relatively good knowledge regarding risk factors for HIV transmission. However, 48% did not know that there are "means to prevent mother-to-child HIV transmission." If women were not to breastfeed her baby, negative attitudes expected from the partner would include 84% thinking that that the mother is harming the baby, 78% thinking she is not a good mother, 74% thinking she has HIV, and 66% thinking she has been unfaithful. Ninety-seven percent of women did not perceive themselves at risk for HIV and only 57% had been tested for HIV. Although, 85% of women expressed their willingness to be tested, most were concerned about confidentiality and disclosing HIV serostatus because of fear of negative reactions from their husbands, parents, and community. Many social and cultural barriers confront pregnant women when they decide to opt for HIV testing. If VCT and PMTCT interventions are to be successful, urgent attention must be focused on education, development of innovative culturally appropriate interventions that empower women to make decisions about HIV testing, involvement of men, and addressing stigma and discriminatory attitudes toward people living with HIV/AIDS.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
- Leadership and Management