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Meek, Caroline J.; Munkhondya, Tiwonge E. Mbeya; Mphande, Mtisunge; Tembo, Tapiwa A.; Chitani, Mike; Jean-Baptiste, Milenka; Vansia, Dhrutika; Kumbuyo, Caroline; Simon, Katherine R.; & Rutstein, Sarah E., et al. (Preprint). Examining the Feasibility of Assisted Index Case Testing for HIV Case-Finding: A Qualitative Analysis of Barriers and Facilitators to Implementation in Malawi. Research Square. PMCID: PMC10503858


Background: Assisted index case testing, in which health care workers take an active role in referring at-risk contacts of people living with HIV for HIV testing services, has been widely recognized as an evidence-based intervention with high potential to increase PLHIV status awareness. Promising evidence for the approach has led to several attempts to scale assisted index case testing throughout eastern and southern Africa in recent years. However, despite effective implementation being at the heart of any assisted index case testing strategy, there is limited implementation science research from the perspective of the HCWs who are doing the "assisting". This study examines the feasibility of assisted index case testing from the perspective of health care workers implementing the approach in Malawi.
Methods: In-depth interviews were conducted with 26 lay health care workers delivering assisted index case testing in Malawian health facilities. Interviews explored health care workers' experiences counselling index clients and tracing these clients' contacts, aiming to inform development of a blended learning implementation package. Transcripts were inductively analyzed using Dedoose coding software to identify and describe key factors influencing feasibility of assisted index case testing. Analysis included multiple rounds of coding and iteration with the data collection team.
Results: Participants reported a variety of barriers to feasibility of assisted index case testing implementation, including privacy concerns, limited time for assisted index case testing amid high workloads, poor quality contact information, logistical obstacles to tracing, and challenges of discussing sexual behavior with clients. Participants also reported several health care worker characteristics that facilitate feasibility: robust understanding of assisted index case testing's rationale and knowledge of procedures, strong interpersonal skills, positive attitudes towards clients, and sense of purpose in their work.
Conclusions: Findings demonstrate that maximizing assisted index case testing's potential to increase HIV status awareness requires adequately equipping health care workers with appropriate knowledge, skills, and support to address and overcome the many feasibility challenges that they face in implementation.


Reference Type

Journal Article

Year Published


Journal Title

Research Square


Meek, Caroline J.
Munkhondya, Tiwonge E. Mbeya
Mphande, Mtisunge
Tembo, Tapiwa A.
Chitani, Mike
Jean-Baptiste, Milenka
Vansia, Dhrutika
Kumbuyo, Caroline
Simon, Katherine R.
Rutstein, Sarah E.
Barrington, Clare
Kim, Maria H.
Go, Vivian F.
Rosenberg, Nora E.

Article Type







Barrington - 0000-0001-7802-4051