Evaluation of Perceptions of Caregivers and Mothers on Early Infant Diagnosis and Treatment of HIV in Selected Health Facilities in Kenya

Emily Barsito, Dennis Magu, Yeri Kombe, Charles Fernandes Lumumba Mbakaya


Introduction: Early infant diagnosis among human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-exposed infants is a critical component of the prevention of mother-to-child transmission programs. The Kenya Ministry of Health recently revised their early infant diagnosis (EID) guidelines to include HIV DNA PCR testing at birth (pilot only), six weeks, six months, and 12 months postnatal and a final 18-month antibody test, to be in line with World Health guidelines on Management of HIV and treatment for infants. Despite these interventions to address barriers to IED, Kenya faces challenges in the uptake of EID. This study explored perceptions of caregivers and mothers of HIV positive infants in order to make recommendations to strengthen the provision of EID services in Kenya.

Methods: We sought to understand the determinants of caregivers and or mothers of HIV positive infants seeking early infant Diagnosis services and treatment in six public health facilities located in six counties of Kenya. We conducted ten focus group discussions with mothers and caretakers of infants seeking Early Infant Diagnosis services and treatment in level four and level five public health facilities in six counties with high, medium, and low prevalence of HIV in Kenya. All Focus Group Discussions were audiotaped, transcribed, translated, and coded for analysis.

Findings: Most respondents reported knowledge and awareness of EID services. However, respondents in rural counties reported less knowledge and awareness of EID compared to those from urban counties. Negative provider attitudes complicated respondents' pathway to seeking care in a stigma-free environment. Linkage by Community Health Volunteers to caregivers and mothers of an infant was noted as a critical component to care. While most respondents were satisfied with how they were treated by health providers while seeking services, most respondents complained about delays and long waiting times to receive services. At the community level, intimate partner violence is a key barrier to caretakers and mothers in seeking EID care.

Conclusion & Recommendations: Mothers and caregivers of infants had higher levels of awareness (knowledge and understanding) of EID. Interventions to ensure that caregivers and mothers of infants are not stigmatized as well as addressing delays and long waiting times for the provision of services should be implemented while ensuring interventions to assist mothers and caregivers 


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