Effective interpersonal health communication for linkage to care after HIV diagnosis in south africa

Tonderai Mabuto, Salome Charalambous, Christopher J. Hoffmann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Background: Early in the global response to HIV, health communication was focused toward HIV prevention. More recently, the role of health communication along the entire HIV care continuum has been highlighted. We sought to describe how a strategy of interpersonal communication allows for precision health communication to influence behavior regarding care engagement. Methods: We analyzed 1 to 5 transcripts from clients participating in longitudinal counseling sessions from a communication strategy arm of a randomized trial to accelerate entry into care in South Africa. The counseling arm was selected because it increased verified entry into care by 40% compared with the standard of care. We used thematic analysis to identify key aspects of communication directed specifically toward a client's goals or concerns. Results: Of the participants, 18 of 28 were female and 21 entered HIV care within 90 days of diagnosis. Initiating a communication around client-perceived consequences of HIV was at times effective. However, counselors also probed around general topics of life disruption-such as potential for child bearing-as a technique to direct the conversation toward the participant's needs. Once individual concerns and needs were identified, counselors tried to introduce clinical care seeking and collaboratively discuss potential barriers and approaches to overcome to accessing that care. Conclusions: Through the use of interpersonal communication messages were focused on immediate needs and concerns of the client. When effectively delivered, it may be an important communication approach to improve care engagement.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S23-S28
JournalJournal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017


  • Africa
  • HIV
  • Linkage to care
  • health communication
  • interpersonal

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Infectious Diseases
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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