Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department

Global Health

Major Professor

Jaime Corvin, PhD

Committee Member

Julie Baldwin, PhD

Committee Member

Ricardo Izurieta, MD, PhD

Committee Member

Eknath Naik, MD, PhD


Attrition, Infant HIV, Mother to child transmission, Peer counselor, PLHIV, PMTCT


Purpose and rationale: In 2012, an estimated 9,500 infants in Ethiopia were born with HIV. Mortality for these infants is high, and preventing infection offers the best hope for reducing the childhood death rates. Effective measures exist which can reduce the likelihood of a child acquiring HIV from its mother to less than 2%, and the necessary anti-retroviral medications are free and accessible to Ethiopian women. However, Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission of HIV (PMTCT) efforts in the country have not kept pace with the global reduction in infant infections over the last decade, and the Ethiopian MTCT rate was still 20% in 2012. Although a large number of women are getting tested for HIV during pregnancy, only 41% of eligible women in the country complete PMTCT therapy. The purpose of this exploratory study was to elicit the perspectives of HIV+ mothers on the unique socio-contextual factors which affect them during pregnancy, both positively and negatively, including the beliefs, attitudes, cultural norms and individuals who have influence over their reproductive health decisions. Methods: The mixed-methods study was done at a community level in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. With the assistance of several large networks of people living with HIV (PLHIV), PLHIV mothers who have a child at least one year of age were recruited by mixed purposeful sampling; various socio-economic demographics were represented. In-depth interviews, focus groups and surveys were then completed in Amharic with a research assistant translating to English. Results: 98 women in total took part in the study: 23 completed interviews, 28 participated in focus groups, and 49 completed additional surveys. The greatest barriers to PMTCT completion identified were: feelings of hopelessness and carelessness, a general lack of understanding of the efficacy of ARVs, negative religious influences, stigma and poverty. The strongest facilitators to PMTCT use expressed by the women were: PLHIV peer support, faith, and gaining hope. It was recommended that PLHIV mothers be utilized in all PMTCT planning and interventions in the future. Implications: Program managers and health officials can build on these findings to modify existing PMTCT programs and to develop innovative and effective new PMTCT interventions. This will ultimately result in increased PMTCT uptake and adherence amongst HIV + pregnant women and a reduction in infant HIV transmission.

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