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A qualitative study on the voluntariness of counselling and testing for HIV amongst antenatal clinic attendees: Do women have a choice?

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Abstract

Background: Mother-to-child transmission (MTCT) of the Human Immunodeficiency -Virus (HIV) is a serious public health problem, contributing up to 90% of childhood HIV infections. In Tanzania, the prevention-of-mother-to-child-transmission (PMTCT) feature of the HIV programme was rolled out in 2000. The components of PMTCT include counselling and HIV testing directed at antenatal clinic attendees. It is through the process of Provider Initiated Counseling and Testing (PITC) that counselling is offered participant confidentiality and voluntariness are upheld and valid consent obtained. The objective of the study was to explore antenatal clinic attendees' experiences of the concept of voluntariness vis- a- vis the implementation of prior counseling and subsequent testing for HIV under the PITC as part of their antenatal care. Methods: In-depth interviews were conducted with17 antenatal clinic attendees and 6 nursing officers working at the Muhimbili National Hospital (MNH) antenatal clinic. The study data were analyzed using qualitative content analysis. Results: Antenatal clinic attendees' accounts suggested that counselling and testing for HIV during pregnancy was voluntary, and that knowledge of their HIV status led them to access appropriate treatment for both mother and her newborn baby. They reported feeling no pressure from nursing officers, and gave verbal consent to undergo the HIV test. However, some antenatal clinic attendees reported pressure from their partners to test for HIV. Healthcare providers were thus faced with a dilemma of disclosure/ nondisclosure when dealing with discordant couples. Conclusion: Antenatal clinic attendees at MNH undertook the PITC for HIV voluntarily. This was enhanced by their prior knowledge of HIV, the need to prevent mother- to- child transmission of HIV, and the effectiveness of the voluntary policy implemented by nursing officers.

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APA

Haruna, T. S., Assenga, E., & Shayo, J. (2018). A qualitative study on the voluntariness of counselling and testing for HIV amongst antenatal clinic attendees: Do women have a choice? BMC Medical Ethics, 19(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12910-018-0329-7

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