Awareness and knowledge on timing of mother-to-child transmission of HIV among antenatal care attending women in Southern Ethiopia: a cross sectional study

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Background: Mother-to-child transmission (MTCT) of HIV infection remains a major public health problem and constitutes the most important cause of HIV infection in children under the age of 15 years old. Awareness on MTCT of HIV and knowledge of its timing usually pose a direct effect on utilization of PMTCT services (mainly HIV testing, infant feeding options and antiretroviral use). The objective of this study is to assess pregnant women’s knowledge on timing of MTCT of HIV in Southern Ethiopia.

Methods: A cross sectional study was conducted in 62 health centers in Southern Ethiopia from February 25 to March 24, 2012. A total of 1325 antenatal care attending women were included in the survey by using a multistage sampling technique. Data were collected using a structured and pre-tested questionnaire. Multiple logistic regression analysis was employed to identify variables associated with women’s knowledge on timing of MTCT of HIV.

Results: All interviewed pregnant women were aware of HIV/AIDS transmission, but only 60.7% were aware of the risk of MTCT. The possibility of MTCT during pregnancy, delivery and breastfeeding was known by 48.4%, 58.6% and 40.7% of the respondents, respectively. The proportion of women who were fully knowledgeable on timing of MTCT was 11.5%. Women’s full knowledge on timing of MTCT was associated with maternal education [AOR = 3.68, 95% CI: 1.49-9.08], and being government employee [AOR = 2.50, 95% CI: 1.23- 5.07]. Whereas, there was a negative association between full knowledge of women on timing of MTCT and no offer of information on MTCT/PMTCT by antenatal care (ANC) service provider [AOR = 0.44, 95% CI: 0.30-0.64], lack of discussion on ANC with male partner [AOR = 0.30, 95% CI: 0.12-0.72], and lack of discussion on HIV/AIDS with male partner [AOR = 0.17, 95% CI: 0.07-0.43].

Conclusion: There was low awareness and knowledge on timing of MTCT of HIV in this study. Hence, strengthening the level of PMTCT services in ANC settings and devising mechanisms to promote involvement of men in PMTCT services is needed.

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