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Southern African Journal of HIV Medicine

On-line version ISSN 2078-6751
Print version ISSN 1608-9693


GOLDEN, Lauren M. et al. HIV retesting in pregnant women in South Africa: Outcomes of a quality improvement project targeting health systems' weaknesses. South. Afr. j. HIV med. (Online) [online]. 2018, vol.19, n.1, pp.1-3. ISSN 2078-6751.

INTRODUCTION: South Africa is moving towards achieving elimination of mother-to-child transmission (eMTCT) but gaps remain in eMTCT programmes. Documenting successful outcomes of health systems interventions to address these gaps could encourage similar initiatives in the future. METHODS: We describe the effectiveness of a Quality Improvement Project (QIP) to improve HIV retesting rates during pregnancy among women who had previously tested negative by redesigning the clinic process. Eight poorly-performing clinics were selected and compared with eight better-performing control clinics in a subdistrict in North West Province. Over nine months, root cause analysis and testing of change ideas using Plan-Do-Study-Act cycles were used to identify and refine interventions. Analysis of patient flow showed that women were referred for retesting following their nurse-driven antenatal visits, and many left without retesting as this would have further prolonged their visit. Processes were redesigned and standardised, where a counsellor was charged with retesting patients before antenatal consults. Staff were mentored on data collection and interpretation process. Quality improvement nurse advisors monitored indicators bi-weekly and adjusted interventions accordingly. RESULTS: Retesting in intervention clinics rose from 36% in the three months pre-intervention to full coverage at month nine. At the end of the study, retesting in intervention clinics was 20% higher than in controls. Retesting also increased in the subdistrict overall. CONCLUSION: Service coverage and overall impact of HIV programmes can be raised through care-process analysis that optimises patient flow, supported by targeted QI interventions. These QI methodologies may be effective elsewhere for identifying new HIV infections in pregnant/breastfeeding women, and possibly in other services.

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