oa Southern African Journal of Infectious Diseases - Experiences in the implementation of provider-initiated counselling and testing and linkage to HIV services at urban public sector health facilities in KwaZulu-Natal : research
Background: A provider-initiated counselling and testing (PICT) strategy replaced the voluntary counselling and testing (VCT) strategy with respect to the provision of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) counselling and testing (HCT) in KwaZulu-Natal province with the aim of increasing the uptake of HIV services. VCT depended on clients requesting HCT, whereas HCT is routinely offered to all persons utilising health facilities, regardless of the reason for the visit with the provision of PICT. This study reports on the feasibility and early outcomes of using the PICT strategy in KwaZulu-Natal.
Method: Health workers were trained to provide PICT to patients presenting at the outpatient department (OPD) of two public health institutions in KwaZulu-Natal from December 2010 to May 2011. Data on the offering and uptake of HIV services were recorded and analysed using univariate and multivariate analysis to compare HCT uptake and other systematic barriers before and after the introduction of PICT.
Results: A significant change in the uptake of HCT after the introduction of PICT at both sites (p = 0.242 and p = 0.224) and in the uptake of HIV testing (p = 0.062 and p = 0.224) was not observed. PICT offering was weakest at the OPDs (p < 0.001), and was solely provided by counsellors (85.5%). Few (29.2%) clients were screened for tuberculosis. Immunological and clinical staging was performed on 29.8% and 1.0% of HIV-positive patients, respectively. The linkage to prevention services was low with 12.2% of clients referred for further care.
Conclusion: PICT implementation and integration with other services faces human resource, infrastructural and conceptual barriers, and is not currently feasible at OPDs. The urgent provision of operational guidance and training for providers is needed.
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