"We Have Heard It Together": A Qualitative Analysis of Couple HIV Testing and Counselling Recruitment in Malawi's Option B+ Programme

December 2017 - Combination Prevention

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Rosenberg, N.E., Gross, R., Mtande, T., et al. African Journal of AIDS Research (October 2017), 16(3), 215–223, doi:10.2989/16085906/2017.

This qualitative study described experiences of participants in a randomized controlled trial that examined male partner recruitment strategies for couples HIV testing and counseling within an antenatal unit in Malawi. Strategies included inviting the man to attend an appointment with his partner, and providing the invitation plus phone and community tracing for individuals who did not follow up at the clinic. All women disclosed their HIV status and gave the invitation to their partner. Motivators for disclosure included to protect the baby and their own health, help the partner know their status, and avoid secrecy. Women and men appreciated the formality of the invitation and reported that it provided a sense of importance. Those traced via telephone also reported a sense of importance, but some indicated that they would have attended the clinic anyway. Most men knew that they would receive HIV testing, which was both a motivator (love for their partner) and a deterrent (fear of the result or lack of interest). Receiving results as a couple enabled mutual support, including adherence support and discussions of condom use. There were no reports of worsened relationships or economic consequences. The authors concluded that invitations and tracing can support couples counseling interventions, including disclosure and male partner testing.

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