World Health & Population

World Health & Population 15(2) March 2014 : 14-22.doi:10.12927/whp.2014.23860
Original Research

The Experiences of Making Infant Feeding Choices by African, Caribbean and Black HIV-Positive Mothers in Ontario, Canada

Lydia Kapiriri, Wangari Esther Tharao, Marvelous Muchenje, Khatundi Irene Masinde, Sandi Siegel and Fanta Ongoiba


Mothers in HIV-endemic countries are advised to exclusively breastfeed their babies until six months because of lack of resources and better chances for child survival, while in developed countries, replacement feeding is advised. What are the experiences of HIV-positive women who migrate from HIV-endemic countries to developed countries, when making infant feeding choices?

Methods: In-depth interviews and focus group discussions with a total of 25 women living with HIV in Toronto and Hamilton, Ontario.

Results: Free infant formula alleviates the practical constraints in making infant feeding choices. However, cultural beliefs and social expectations constrain HIV-positive mothers' decision not to breastfeed. This is further complicated by the different policies. Service providers should understand the psychological and emotional experiences of the mothers in order to provide the appropriate support. Peers could be potential sources of support. The differences in policies are issues of global justice that need to be addressed.



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