Ellasy Mtumbuka, Alfred Maluwa, Address Malata, Mercy Pindani, Kaye Bultemeier
A study was conducted to explore factors that influence pregnant women to undergo routine HIV testing and counselling during antenatal clinics at Dedza District hospital in Malawi. The study design was descriptive and utilized qualitative data collection and analysis method. Twelve HIV positive women aged between 15 and 49 years were purposively sampled during antenatal clinic and were interviewed using an open ended questionnaire. Qualitative data was manually analysed using thematic content analysis and the resultant themes are reported as results. Results show that the majority of the women decided to undertake HIV testing while they were at home prior to visiting the antenatal clinic. Most women wanted to know their HIV status because they wanted to access PMTCT services if they tested HIV positive. Results show that the desire to protect the unborn babies and to access HIV treatment and care was the main reason that most women opted for HIV testing. In addition, some women opted for the test because they did not know about their right to opt out of the test. However, all women felt that they made the right decision to get tested voluntarily and that the time between counselling and the decision to opt in or out of the test was adequate. Results further show that the PMTCT coverage is high but there is a need for the service providers to adhere to mandatory HIV testing and counselling guidelines, so that quality services are provided. There is also a need to create awareness among the communities so that the pregnant women make informed decision when opting for HIV testing and counselling during antenatal clinics.
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