An offer you can't refuse? Provider-initiated HIV testing in antenatal clinics in rural Malawi

Health Policy Plan. 2011 Jul;26(4):307-15. doi: 10.1093/heapol/czq066. Epub 2010 Nov 2.


International organizations promote provider-initiated, 'routine' HIV testing of pregnant women seeking antenatal care as an effort to curb mother-to-child transmission. We offer an account of the perceptions of HIV testing at antenatal clinics in rural Malawi. Although it is both international and Government of Malawi policy that women must be explicitly informed of their right to refuse testing, analysis of in-depth interviews, focus group discussions and evidence from observational field journals show that rural Malawians do not perceive HIV testing as a choice, but rather as compulsory in order to receive antenatal care. This study illustrates dissonance between global expectations and local realities of the delivery of HIV-testing interventions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • HIV Seropositivity / diagnosis*
  • Humans
  • Infectious Disease Transmission, Vertical / prevention & control
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Malawi
  • Male
  • Mass Screening*
  • Maternal Health Services*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications*
  • Prenatal Care*
  • Public Policy
  • Rural Population