Food Insecurity is a Barrier to Prevention of Mother-To-Child HIV Transmission Services in Zimbabwe: A Cross-Sectional Study

June 2015 - Structural Prevention

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McCoy, S. I., Buzdugan, R., Mushavi, A., et al. BMC Public Health (April 2015), E-publication ahead of print.

This study examined the relationship between food insecurity (FI) and prevention of mother-to-child HIV transmission (PMTCT). The authors used data from a 2012 cross-sectional survey of mother/caregiver-infant pairs conducted as part of Zimbabwe’s Accelerated National PMTCT Program, which was developed to examine HIV transmission patterns for mothers or caregivers aged 16 years or older during pregnancy, delivery, and breastfeeding. The authors found that the degree of FI significantly influenced use of antenatal care (ANC): attendance of at least one ANC visit was 95 percent among women from food-secure households, 94 percent for women with moderate FI, and 92 percent for women with severe FI. Furthermore, women from moderately or severely food-insecure households were significantly less likely to know their HIV status during pregnancy, or labor and delivery, or to deliver in a health facility; and were less likely to report attending the postnatal visit. Overall, completion of all key steps in the PMTCT cascade was reported by 49 percent of women from food-secure households, 45 percent of women with moderate FI, and 38 percent of women with severe FI. The authors concluded that FI may be an important barrier to uptake of some PMTCT services, and called for integrated food and nutrition programs for pregnant women.

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