This paper discusses research in Botswana and Zambia that showed gaps in community knowledge about HIV transmission, particularly from mother to child, and yielded insights into community perspectives about the barriers to using voluntary counseling and testing services; the stigma and fear associated with HIV; traditional norms on breastfeeding; and the role of family and community members in women’s decisions to participate in programs to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV. A separate Population Council publication (“Community involvement in the prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV: Insights and recommendations”) offers recommendations for community involvement strategies that will encourage program planners to include community participation, education, and mobilization as critical program elements. An intervention that addresses mother-to-child transmission of HIV is complex, yet it is one of the few biomedical interventions currently available for reducing the transmission of HIV that is feasible and affordable in resource-constrained settings. Placed within the framework of community involvement, it offers an enormous opportunity to improve HIV prevention and care. Successful interventions can influence how AIDS is perceived by the community, reduce stigma, and have an effect beyond the immediate prevention of perinatal transmission.
Nyblade, Laura and Mary Lyn Field-Nguer. 2001. "Women, communities, and the prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV: Issues and findings from community research in Botswana and Zambia," Community Involvement in Initiatives to Prevent Mother-to-Child Transmission of HIV: A Collaborative Project. New York and Washington, DC: Population Council and International Center for Research on Women.