Access to HIV/AIDS care for mothers and children in sub-Saharan Africa: adherence to the postnatal PMTCT program
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Despite scale up of perinatal prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) of HIV interventions,postnatal continuity of comprehensive HIV/AIDS care, for both the mother and baby, remains a challenge in developing countries. We determined adherence to the postnatal PMTCT program (PN-PMTCT) and the associated factors among mothers at a public urban hospital in Uganda. We interviewed HIV-positive postnatal mothers on discharge and we determined adherence to PN-PMTCT by the proportion of mothers that honored their return appointments by the end of eight weeks postpartum. We had focus group discussions to assess factors that influence adherence to PN-PMTCT. Of 289 mothers, only 110 (38%) adhered to PN-PMTCT. Previous attendance of a routine postnatal review and having access to a phone were significantly associated with adherence to PMTCT among mothers older than 25 years (odds ratio (OR) 3.6 (95% confidence interval (CI); 1.2 10.4)) and (OR 3.1 (95% CI; 1.3 7.1)), respectively. On the other hand, Christianity (OR 3.2 (95% CI; 1.1 9.0)) was significantly associated with adherence to PN-PMTCT among mothers below 25 years of age. Mothers’ perceived benefits of the PN-PMTCT program, easy access to the program, and presence of social support from a spouse were important motivators for mothers to adhere to PN-PMTCT. Even with improved antenatal and intra-partum PMTCT services, only a third of the HIV-infected mothers adhered to the PNPMTCT program. Mothers who previously attended a routine postnatal care were 3.6 fold more likely to adhere to PN-PMTCT. We recommend strategies to increase mothers’ adherence to PN-PMTCT interventions in order to increase access to HIV/AIDS care for mothers and children in sub-Saharan Africa.