"It was my obligation as mother": 18-Month completion of Early Infant Diagnosis as identity control for mothers living with HIV in Kenya.

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DOI: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2020.112866


RATIONALE: Early Infant Diagnosis (EID) is critical to timely identification of HIV and rapid treatment initiation for infants found to be infected. Completing the EID cascade involves a series of age-specific tests between birth and 18 months and can be challenging for mother- infant pairs in low-resource settings. Even prior to recent increases in Kenya's testing recommendations, approximately 22% of mother-infant pairs enrolled in EID were lost to follow-up. As EID cascades become increasingly complex, identifying strategies to maximize retention becomes even more essential. Despite ongoing health system improvements, we still lack a framework for understanding the individual-level, psychosocial processes underlying EID completion-insight that could be essential for shaping strategies to support patients and close gaps in retention.

OBJECTIVE: Our objective was to explain individual-level processes that lead to EID completion among mothers who successfully completed the EID cascade.

METHODS: Using qualitative methods informed by grounded theory, we conducted 65 interviews with Kenyan mothers who completed EID.

RESULTS: We identified three themes related to completion: (1) Negative motivation, from the consequences of infant infection, fear of postnatal transmission, and burden of maternal failure; (2) Positive motivation, from achieving a final goal, responding to provider support, and maximizing infant health; and (3) Overcoming challenges, through resolve/resiliency, planning/privatizing and rejecting stigma/leveraging support.

CONCLUSION: Overall, the EID cascade served as a framing process for women to secure an identity as a good mother. Successful EID completion was the product of a strong motivational foundation channeled into strategies to surmount persistent challenges. Participant accounts of overcoming challenges highlight their resiliency as well as the outstanding need to address financial, logistical, and social barriers to care. Future EID programs may capitalize on these findings by affirming patients' quest for identity control, leveraging positive motivators, and expanding peer support structures to help mothers feel connected throughout the cascade.

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Social science & medicine (1982)



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Citizenship; Early infant diagnosis; HIV; Identity; Kenya; Motherhood; Prevention of mother-to-child transmission; Retention; Therapeutic

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