Female-initiated HIV prevention methods, such as oral pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and the vaginal ring, may be important risk reduction strategies for breastfeeding women. Given their novelty, information about the sociocultural context and how it influences perceptions of and support for their use during breastfeeding is lacking. To address this gap, we conducted 23 focus group discussions separately with pregnant and breastfeeding women, male partners and grandmothers (N = 196) and 36 in-depth interviews with key informants in Malawi, South Africa, Uganda and Zimbabwe. We analysed the data using a framework analysis method. Overall, breastfeeding was the norm, and participants described the transference of health (e.g., nutrition) and disease (e.g., HIV) to children through breast milk. Participants considered the early breastfeeding period as one of high HIV transmission risk for women. They explained that male partners tend to seek outside sexual partners during this period because women need time to recover from delivery, women focus their attention on the child, and some men are disgusted by breast milk. Participants highlighted concerns about the drugs in oral PrEP transferring to the child through breast milk, but fewer worried about the effects of the vaginal ring because the drug is localized. Women, grandmothers and key informants were supportive of women using these HIV prevention methods during breastfeeding, while male partners had mixed opinions. These findings can be used to tailor messages for promoting the use of PrEP or the vaginal ring during breastfeeding in sub-Saharan Africa.
After their wives have delivered, a lot of men like going out
Perceptions of HIV transmission risk and support for HIV prevention methods during breastfeeding in sub-Saharan Africa
Flax, V. L., Hawley, I., Ryan, J., Chitukuta, M., Mathebula, F., Nakalega, R., Seyama, L., Taulo, F., van der Straten, A., & Mtn- Mamma Study Team (2021). After their wives have delivered, a lot of men like going out: Perceptions of HIV transmission risk and support for HIV prevention methods during breastfeeding in sub-Saharan Africa. Maternal and Child Nutrition, 17(2), . https://doi.org/10.1111/mcn.13120