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An Assessment of the Social, Cultural, and Economical Barriers to Option B+ Retention and Their Solutions in Malawi: A Review

Jamie Yoon, David S. Chung, Michelle Kim, Kunmin Kim, Sang Heon Lee, Tae Youn Kim, Hark Joon Lee, Seog In Moon, Jooheon Park, Paul S. Chung,
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Abstract: Malawi has one of the highest rates of HIV prevalence in the world, and accounts for 4% of the total number of people living in sub-Saharan Africa with HIV. Approximately one million people in Malawi were living with HIV in 2016, with 24,000 HIV-related deaths. The Option B+ program, first implemented in Malawi, aimed to initiate ART for all pregnant women, regardless of their CD4 cell count or disease stage. This study serves to analyze and assess the effectiveness of Option B+ retention, in relation to the facilitation of how various social and cultural barriers were handled. A literature review of 29 publications was conducted. Careful evaluation of various studies indicates that although there is a myriad of reasons explaining low levels of retention, the women who were at the highest risk for low retention were young pregnant women who were treated on the same day of HIV-diagnosis. Solutions focused around women and their partners or communities showed promising evidence of success in increasing adherence, as these strategies likely provided women reliable social and emotional support to address major barriers to retention such as a lack of support from male partners, ineffective education from healthcare workers, or stigma towards their HIV disclosure statue.
Keywords: HIV / Option B+ / Malawi / Retention / CHTC / PMTCT

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