Brandon Knettel, assistant professor, contributed to "The development of Maisha, a video-assisted counseling intervention to address HIV stigma at entry into antenatal care in Tanzania" in Evaluation and Program Planning. His coauthors include Melissa Watt, Rimel Mwamba and Blandina Mmbaga from the Duke Global Health Institute.
HIV stigma has a profound impact on clinical outcomes and undermines the quality of life of people living with HIV (PLWH). Among HIV-negative individuals, misinformation and prejudicial attitudes about HIV can fuel stigma and contribute to discrimination against PLWH. Antenatal care (ANC), with its focus on universal HIV testing, provides a unique entry point to address HIV stigma. This study describes the development of a counseling intervention to address HIV stigma among women and their partners attending a first ANC appointment in Tanzania. Formative work to inform the intervention consisted of qualitative interviews with 32 pregnant and postpartum women (both women living with HIV and HIV-negative women) and 20 healthcare workers. Data were analyzed iteratively, using a thematic analysis approach, to identify intervention targets. The resulting intervention, Maisha (Swahili for “Life”), includes three sessions informed by the HIV Stigma Framework and Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy: a video and brief counseling session prior to HIV testing and, for those who test seropositive for HIV, two additional sessions building on the video content. A pilot test of the intervention is in process. Addressing HIV stigma at the first ANC visit can help individuals living with HIV to overcome stigma-related barriers to the initiation and maintenance of HIV care, and can reduce stigmatizing attitudes among those who test negative for HIV.