Infant and young child feeding learning sessions during savings groups are feasible and acceptable for HIV-positive and HIV-negative women in Malawi

Matern Child Nutr. 2019 Jul;15(3):e12765. doi: 10.1111/mcn.12765. Epub 2019 Jan 13.


Based on formative research, HIV-positive women in Lilongwe District, Malawi receive little infant and young child feeding (IYCF) counselling postpartum and want more support for IYCF from their husbands. To address these gaps, we implemented a behaviour change communication intervention promoting IYCF in village savings and loan associations (VSLAs) that included HIV-positive and HIV-negative women. The intervention consisted of 15 IYCF learning sessions facilitated by VSLA volunteers during regular VSLA meetings and included four sessions to which husbands were invited. We assessed the feasibility and acceptability of the intervention through learning session participation logs, structured observations of learning sessions, and in-depth interviews with HIV-positive and HIV-negative VSLA members, husbands of members, and VSLA volunteers. Nine VSLA volunteers conducted learning sessions with approximately 300-400 women, about one quarter of whom were lactating, and 25-35 men. VSLA volunteers consistently communicated technical information correctly, followed the learning session steps, and used visual aids. Sessions averaged 46 min, with <20% of observed sessions completed within the recommended time (20-25 min). Key themes from interviews were the following: (a) learning sessions were useful; (b) including HIV-positive and HIV-negative women in the sessions was acceptable; (c) information learned during sessions encouraged families to change IYCF practices; (d) IYCF messages were shared with others in the community; and (e) male participation was low because men considered VSLAs and IYCF to be women's activities. In conclusion, integrating IYCF learning sessions into VLSAs was feasible and acceptable for mixed groups of HIV-positive and HIV-negative women. Future research should test other strategies for involving men in IYCF.

Keywords: HIV; IYCF; behaviour change communication; breastfeeding; complementary feeding; microfinance.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Child, Preschool
  • Communication
  • Fathers / psychology
  • Female
  • Financial Management
  • HIV Seropositivity
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice / ethnology
  • Health Promotion / methods*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant Care*
  • Infant Nutritional Physiological Phenomena*
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Malawi / ethnology
  • Male
  • Mothers / psychology