An Exploratory Study of the Behaviors and Practices That May Increase HIV Risk among Pregnant and Lactating Women in Communities in Swaziland








This was an exploratory study to better understand the sexual practices of pregnant women that may affect HIV seroconversion during pregnancy. This was a follow-up study to the Gates study, which identified an increased rate of seroconversion during pregnancy. There were four study aims:

  1. To describe beliefs, communication, and behaviors regarding sex and sexuality in Swaziland;
  2. To understand how sexual practices change during pregnancy and lactation;
  3. To examine knowledge and perceived risk of HIV acquisition during pregnancy and lactation among women and men;
  4. To explore HIV prevention practices during pregnancy and lactation.

The study used a qualitative exploratory study design. This study interviewed three study populations: pregnant women, sexually active men, and health care workers. Data was collected from the three study populations through focus group discussions and in-depth interviews. Focus group discussions were used to gather more general information about cultural and traditional sexual norms and practices. Individual interviews provided an opportunity to explore participants’ sexual experiences during pregnancy and lactation. Focus group discuss were conducted with health care workers to gather an additional perspective and triangulate findings between the study populations. Given the minimal amount of information available regarding this topic, this small exploratory study may encourage additional research.

Swaziland is comprised of rural, urban, and semi-rural areas. In order to ensure that the study was representative of these three types of areas, the study included one urban, one rural, and one semi-urban site.