Misdiagnosis in point-of-care rapid HIV testing – findings from a qualitative study in Zimbabwe
A growing number of studies highlight high levels of misdiagnosis in the scale-up of HIV rapid testing programmes, which often remain invisible to individual testers. In this talk, I explore how HIV testers in Zimbabwe try to translate the disembodied norms of laboratory testing into the body work of implementing HIV testing at the point of care in the face of resource-limited and high-pressured work environments that challenge testers’ confidence in the authenticity of their test results. I show how assumptions built into the technology of HIV rapid tests can lead to a mismatch between intended and actual uses of the tests, and potentially, to misdiagnosis. The study results caution against a focus on user errors to explain misdiagnosis and argue for building a work environment that facilitates trust, cooperation and a calm, careful disposition – quite the opposite of a ‘rapid’ test – in order to achieve high quality testing.
- Dr Nadine Beckmann, Assistant Professor in Medical Anthropology, Department of Global Health & Development, LSHTM