Hospital-based Provider Counseling and Testing Improves Access to HIV Testing and Counseling Services at Hospitals

Hospital-based provider initiated testing and counselling (PITC) is not entirely a new practice in Uganda. Unlike voluntary and diagnostic HIV counselling and testing methods, PITC integrates HIV counselling and testing into routine health care services at every service delivery point. Increasing the use of this approach, which has not been optimally utilized, will contribute to the Ministry of Health efforts to scale-up HIV counseling and testing services across the country. 

The USAID SUSTAIN project supports efforts to increase accessibility and utilization of HIV counselling and testing services at Regional Referral and General Hospitals. Between November 2012 and March 2013, SUSTAIN, together  with the Ministry of Health trainers and selected hospital laboratory staff, trained at least 400 health workers in PITC at 16 supported hospitals. Participants included nurses, records staff, clinicians, lab staff and counselors.

“I avoided participating in Provider Initiated Testing and Counselling activities, because I did not have the knowledge and skills to offer services. This training has empowered me to offer HCT services,   and this will be shown by the HCT performance report from my unit” Out Patient Department unit In Charge Lira Hospital. 

Participants learn to test blood samples
Above; some of the participants that attended the lira training on PITC during a practical session

Group discussions and presentations, role plays, question and answer sessions, mini lectures and actual practice of knowledge and skills with clients at the health care service areas were some of the methods trainers used to impart knowledge. Participants also underwent through pre and post assessment exercises. The trainings produced quick results; for example, quarterly performance for HIV counselling and testing at Lira Regional Referral Hospital increased from 719 clients in October to December 2012 to 4,781 clients in January to March 2013 following the training conducted in January 2013.

As a result of increased access to counselling and testing services through provision of PITC, the number of patients accessing HIV counselling and testing services is expected to increase for supported hospitals.

 

Written By; Julian Natukunda, Communications Specialist, Rose Nasaba, HIV Psychological Support and Counselling Technical Advisor, Kellen Tumuhairwe Baguma, HIV Counselling and Testing Program Officer -URC SUSTAIN project