The feasibility of voluntary counseling and HIV testing for pregnant women using community volunteers in Zimbabwe

Department of Pediatrics , Stanford University, Palo Alto, California, United States
International Journal of STD & AIDS (Impact Factor: 1.05). 12/2005; 16(11):755-9. DOI: 10.1258/095646205774763090
Source: PubMed


The purpose of this pilot project was to assess the feasibility and acceptability of voluntary counselling and HIV testing (VCT) by pregnant women using community volunteers in Zimbabwe to prevent mother to child transmission (MTCT) of HIV. From July 1999 to June 2001, a short-course zidovudine (ZDV)-based perinatal HIV prevention programme was initiated in two antenatal clinics. Community volunteers, recruited from local community organizations, underwent a two-week training course in VCT, which included HIV/AIDS facts, systematic counselling approach, and practical counselling techniques using scripts and role-play. Rapid HIV testing was performed after informed consent. Lay counsellors conducted individual pre- and post-test counselling for HIV. A total of 35 women community volunteers were trained in VCT; 34 graduated and committed to work four hours per week in the clinic. Of the 6051 pregnant women presenting for antenatal clinics (ANC), 1824 (30%) underwent pre-test counselling and 1547 (26%) were tested, and 429 (28%) were HIV infected. Overall, 1283 (83%) returned for their test results including 406 (95%) of HIV-infected women. Of the 406 HIV-infected women who collected their test results, only 203 (50%) opted for ZDV prophylaxis to prevent MTCT of HIV. Over the two-year study period, two counsellors died and three sought employment at other organizations. Adherence to duty roster was 97% and no breach of confidentiality was reported. Despite many challenges, VCT delivered by community volunteers is feasible and acceptable for pregnant women aiming to reduce their risk of transmitting HIV to their infants. This programme is being implemented at several urban and rural MTCT sites in Zimbabwe and can serve as a model for other resource-poor countries.

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    • "Secondly there is existing research suggesting that community level interventions can have a remarkable effect on retention in AIDS programmes [36], [37]. Thirdly, while retention among non M2M mothers was in line with what has been seen elsewhere in Zimbabwe under routine conditions [38], [39], the very high retention seen among M2M mothers, is higher than any other PMTCT data we have seen either in other MSF programmes or reported elsewhere. "
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    ABSTRACT: Mother-to-Mother (M2M) or "Mentor Mother" programmes utilise HIV positive mothers to provide support and advice to HIV positive pregnant women and mothers of HIV exposed babies. Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) supported a Mentor Mother programme in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe from 2009 to 2012; with programme beneficiaries observed to have far higher retention at 6-8 weeks (99% vs 50%, p<0.0005) and to have higher adherence to Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission (PMTCT) guidelines, compared to those not opting in. In this study we explore how the M2M progamme may have contributed to these findings. In this qualitative study we used thematic analysis of in-depth interviews (n = 79). This study was conducted in 2 urban districts of Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's second largest city. Interviews were completed by 14 mentor mothers, 10 mentor mother family members, 30 beneficiaries (women enrolled both in PMTCT and M2M), 10 beneficiary family members, 5 women enrolled in PMTCT but who had declined to take part in the M2M programme and 10 health care staff members. All beneficiaries and health care staff reported that the programme had improved retention and provided rich information on how this was achieved. Additionally respondents described how the programme had helped bring about beneficial behaviour change. M2M programmes offer great potential to empower communities affected by HIV to catalyse positive behaviour change. Our results illustrate how M2M involvement may increase retention in PMTCT programmes. Non-disclosure to one's partner, as well as some cultural practices prevalent in Zimbabwe appear to be major barriers to participation in M2M programmes.
    Preview · Article · Jun 2013 · PLoS ONE
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    • "barriers to partner engagement [26,27], attitudes towards community care providers, stigma [4,16,28]) and included a variety of community units (e.g. community health workers [29], peer counsellors [30], volunteers [31–33], TBAs [34], traditional chiefs and religious leaders [35] and social workers [36]). Though these articles capture a broad spectrum of community agents and outcomes, the findings do not meet statistical significance. "
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    ABSTRACT: While biomedical innovations have made it possible to prevent the vertical transmission of HIV from mother to child, poor retention along the prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) cascade continues to limit the impact of programmes, especially in low-resourced settings. In many of the regions with the highest burden of HIV and the greatest number of new paediatric cases, the uptake of facility-based care by pregnant women remains low. In such settings, the continuum of care for pregnant women and other women of reproductive age necessarily relies on the community. There is no recent review capturing effective, promising practices that are community-based and/or employ community-oriented groups to improve outcomes for the prevention of vertical transmission. This review summarizes those studies demonstrating that community-based and community-oriented interventions significantly influence retention and related outcomes along the PMTCT cascade. Literature on retention within prevention of vertical transmission programmes available on PubMed, Psych Info and MEDLINE was searched and manuscripts reporting on key prevention of vertical transmission outcomes were identified. Short-listed studies that captured significant PMTCT outcome improvements resulting from community-based interventions or facility-based employment of community cohorts (e.g. lay counsellors, community volunteers, etc.) were selected for review. The initial search (using terms "HIV" and "PMTCT") yielded 430 articles. These results were further narrowed using terminology relevant to community prevention of vertical transmission strategies addressing retention: "community," "PMTCT cascade," "retention," "loss to follow up" and "early infant diagnosis." Nine of these reported statistically significant improvements in key prevention of vertical transmission outcomes while meeting other review criteria. Short-listed articles reflect diverse study designs and a variety of effective interventions. Two interventions occurred exclusively in the community and four effectively employed community groups within facilities. The remaining three integrated community- and facility-based components. The outcomes of the included studies focus on knowledge (n=3) and retention along the PMTCT cascade (n=6). This review captures an array of promising community-based and community-oriented interventions that demonstratively improve key prevention of vertical transmission outcomes. Though the strategies captured here show that such interventions work, the limited number of rigorous studies identified make it clear that expansion of community approaches and complementary reporting and related research are sorely needed.
    Full-text · Article · Jul 2012 · Journal of the International AIDS Society
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    • "It is encouraging that VCT can be effective in reducing risk behaviour in such a context but it is not known whether the level of uptake of VCT or the more extensive reductions in risk behaviour seen amongst individuals who took up VCT would have been the same in the absence of this underlying pattern of behaviour change. Previous studies of VCT services in Zimbabwe have achieved higher levels of uptake than was observed in the current study in contexts such as antenatal clinics [31], workplace VCT programmes [32], and mobile same day testing [33]. The profile of testers and the effect of VCT are likely to differ according to the method of VCT provided and the specific context in which it is offered, so it is uncertain to what extent our results can be generalized beyond the particular study setting [34–36]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Voluntary counselling and testing (VCT) is promoted as a potential HIV prevention measure. We describe trends in uptake of VCT for HIV, and patterns of subsequent behaviour change associated with receiving VCT in a population-based open cohort in Manicaland, Zimbabwe. The relationship between receipt of VCT and subsequent reported behaviour was analysed using generalized linear models with random effects. At the third survey, 8.6% of participants (1,079/12,533), had previously received VCT. Women who received VCT, both those positive and negative, reduced their reported number of new partners. Among those testing positive, this risk reduction was enhanced with time since testing. Among men, no behavioural risk reduction associated with VCT was observed. Significant increases in consistent condom use, with regular or non-regular partners, following VCT, were not observed. This study suggests that, among women, particularly those who are infected, behavioural risk reduction does occur following VCT.
    Full-text · Article · Aug 2009 · AIDS and Behavior
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