"In between Life and Death" - HIV-Positive Women in Lesotho and their Obstetric Choices


Dr. Lena Kroeker

Research Area:


With a prevalence of 23.3% (UNAIDS 2006) Lesotho is one of the countries most affected by HIV/AIDS. Antenatal care serves as an entry point for women to be screened for HIV and to be enrolled in programs to prevent a transmission from mother to child. Mothers who are aware of their positive status instantly receive counselling on Prevention of Mother-To-Child Transmission (PMTCT), infant feeding options and family planning.

Usually, senior female next of kin play a key role during confinement and infant feeding. Notwithstanding, care-givers are not always aware of the mother’s serostatus and means of preventing HIV. HIV-positive mothers hence need to mediate between demands of local cultural norms at the one hand and medical advices at the other in order to fulfil their various roles as informed individuals and members of a family network at the same time.

I focus on factors that lead women who are informed on PMTCT to their behaviour. The objective is to evaluate three aspects of the process: the counselling session, the transfer and progress of the information within the community, and the applicability of the biomedical advices in their social context. The study addresses the hypothesis that these women will create innovative solutions to dealing with behavioural expectations.