Objective: Individuals diagnosed with acute HIV infection (AHI) are highly infectious and require immediate HIV prevention efforts to minimize their likelihood of transmitting HIV to others. We sought to explore the relevance of Motivational Interviewing (MI), an evidence-based counseling method, for Malawians with AHI.
Methods: We designed a MI-based intervention called "Uphungu Wanga" to support risk reduction efforts immediately after AHI diagnosis. It was adapted from Options and SafeTalk interventions, and refined through formative research and input from Malawian team members and training participants. We conducted qualitative interviews with counselors and participants to explore the relevance of MI in this context.
Results: Intervention adaptation required careful consideration of Malawian cultural context and the needs of people with AHI. Uphungu Wanga's content was relevant and key MI techniques of topic selection and goal setting were viewed positively by counselors and participants. However, rating levels of importance and confidence did not appear to help participants to explore behavior change as intended.
Conclusion: Uphungu Wanga may have provided some added benefits beyond "brief education" standard of care counseling for Malawians with AHI.
Practice implications: MI techniques of topic selection and goal setting may enhance prevention education and counseling for Malawians with AHI.
Keywords: Acute infection; Adaptation; Counseling; HIV; Motivational interviewing; Sub-Saharan Africa.
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