Despite the offer of HIV testing and counselling in the antenatal care clinic setting, many HIV-infected women give birth in health facilities without knowledge of their HIV status, thereby missing an opportunity to prevent vertical transmission to their infants and care for their own health. Dignitas International, a medical humanitarian organization focused on HIV/AIDS-related treatment, conducted a qualitative study in collaboration with the Malawi College of Medicine to identify the system-related, social and behavioural reasons that pregnant women present themselves at labour wards without knowing their HIV status and without receiving HIV testing and counselling at an antenatal care clinic, during labour or following delivery. This study was conducted in two health centres and two central hospitals located in the districts of Zomba and Blantyre in Malawi.

The CIGI-Africa Initiative Policy Brief Series presents analysis and commentary emerging from field-based research on issues critical to the continent. Findings and recommendations in this peer-reviewed series aim to inform policy making and to contribute to the overall African research enterprise.