The Option B+ Team continues to make great progress as we wrap up our 12-month follow-up of cohort participants and continue data analysis. Preliminary findings have helped us to better understand the challenges pregnant and postpartum women face, and demonstrate the need to address stigma among pregnant women navigating prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) services.
Dr. Watt and Dr. Mmbaga responded to a funding opportunity to develop stigma reduction interventions leading to better outcomes for the prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS and improved quality of life of people living with HIV in low- and middle-income countries. The team saw a unique opportunity to address HIV stigma at entry into antenatal care (ANC), reaching all pregnant women who receive routine HIV testing and counseling services. Addressing HIV stigma at the first ANC visit can help women who test positive to overcome stigma-related barriers to the initiation and maintenance of HIV care, and can help women who know their status to deal with HIV-related stigma during pregnancy and transition to PMTCT services.
With funding from the Fogarty International Center (R21 TW011053), the team will develop and pilot test a brief, scalable intervention called Maisha (Swahili for ‘life’), a counseling intervention that addresses HIV at entry into ANC. We are excited to build upon our existing PMTCT research infrastructure and collaborations with local clinics.