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Mobility and ART retention among men in Malawi: a mixed‐methods study

Thorp, Marguerite, Bellos, MacDaphton, Temelkovska, Tijana, Mphande, Misheck, Cornell, Morna, Hubbard, Julie, Choko, Augustine, Coates, Thomas J., Hoffman, Risa and Dovel, Kathryn (2023) 'Mobility and ART retention among men in Malawi: a mixed‐methods study'. Journal of the International AIDS Society, Vol 26, Issue 3, e26066.

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Mobility is associated with worse outcomes across the HIV treatment cascade, especially among men. However, little is known about the mechanisms that link mobility and poor HIV outcomes and what types of mobility most increase the risk of treatment interruption among men in southern Africa.


From August 2021 to January 2022, we conducted a mixed-methods study with men living with HIV (MLHIV) but not currently receiving antiretroviral therapy (ART) in Malawi. Data collection was embedded within two larger trials (ENGAGE and IDEaL trials). We analysed baseline survey data of 223 men enrolled in the trials who reported being mobile (defined as spending ≥14 nights away from home in the past 12 months) using descriptive statistics and negative binomial regressions. We then recruited 32 men for in-depth interviews regarding their travel experiences and ART utilization. We analysed qualitative data using constant comparative methods.


Survey data showed that 34% of men with treatment interruptions were mobile, with a median of 60 nights away from home in the past 12 months; 69% of trips were for income generation. More nights away from home in the past 12 months and having fewer household assets were associated with longer periods out of care. In interviews, men reported that travel was often unplanned, and men were highly vulnerable to exploitive employer demands, which led to missed appointments and ART interruption. Men made major efforts to stay in care but were often unable to access care on short notice, were denied ART refills at non-home facilities and/or were treated poorly by providers, creating substantial barriers to remaining in and returning to care. Men desired additional multi-month dispensing (MMD), the ability to refill treatment at any facility in Malawi, and streamlined pre-travel refills at home facilities.


Men prioritize ART and struggle with the trade-offs between their own health and providing for their families. Mobility is an essential livelihood strategy for MLHIV in Malawi, but it creates conflict with ART retention, largely due to inflexible health systems. Targeted counselling and peer support, access to ART services anywhere in the country, and MMD may improve outcomes for mobile men.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: NOT_LSTM
Subjects: WC Communicable Diseases > Virus Diseases > Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome. HIV Infections > WC 503 Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome. HIV infections
WC Communicable Diseases > Virus Diseases > Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome. HIV Infections > WC 503.2 Therapy
Faculty: Department: Clinical Sciences & International Health > International Public Health Department
Digital Object Identifer (DOI):
Depositing User: Lynn Roberts-Maloney
Date Deposited: 05 Jul 2023 11:06
Last Modified: 05 Jul 2023 11:06


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