BACKGROUND: According to the South African Policy and guidelines for the implementation of the PMTCT programme of 2008, all pregnant women who tested HIV-positive also had to have their CD4 count measured in order to inform the option of Prevention of Mother-to-Child Treatment (PMTCT): to be put on lifelong treatment or to be placed on temporary PMTCT. They were required to return for the results within two weeks, but some did not return, implying that they did not benefit from the programme. This study was conducted to establish their reasons for not returning.
OBJECTIVES: To explore the reasons given by women attending antenatal care for not returning for the results of their CD4 count done for PMTCT at Embhuleni Hospital and satellite clinics, Mpumalanga.
METHODS: The study was a qualitative study using the free-attitude interview technique. Women who had not returned for their results were traced and interviewed on their reasons for not returning. Interviews were conducted in Siswati, audio-taped, transcribed verbatim and translated into English for analysis. Data saturation was reached by the eighth participant. A thematic analysis was conducted.
RESULTS: The themes that emerged were: participants were not informed about the PMTCT process; poor service delivery from the healthcare practitioners; unprofessional healthcare practitioners' conduct; shortages of medication in the healthcare facilities; fear of social stigma; and poor patient socioeconomic conditions.
CONCLUSION: The reasons for not returning were mainly based on participants' experiences during consultations at the healthcare centres and their perceptions of the healthcare practitioners. Healthcare practitioners should adhere to the tenets of professionalism in order to address this problem.