A systematic review of counselling for HIV testing of pregnant women
Minnie, Karina S
Klopper, Hester C
Van Der Walt, S J C
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Background: Evidence-based strategies have made it possible to limit mother-to-child transmission of the HI-virus to a large extent and enable HIV-positive women to stay healthy for longer, provided their HIV status is known. Although voluntary counselling and testing for HIV is part of routine antenatal care in South Africa, the uptake of testing varies and a large number of pregnant women’s HIV status is not known at the time of birth. Aim: The aim of the study was to establish research evidence regarding factors influencing counselling for HIV testing during pregnancy by means of systematic review, forming part of a larger study using a variety of evidence to develop best practice guidelines. Design: Systematic review Methods. The question steering the review was: ‘What factors influence counselling for HIV testing during pregnancy?’ A multi-stage search of relevant research studies was undertaken using a variety of sources. A total of 33 studies were retrieved and critically appraised. Data were extracted from the studies and assessed according to its applicability in the South African context Results. The results are presented according to the following themes: effects of counselling, quality of counselling, group vs. individual counselling, ways of offering HIV testing, rapid testing, counselling and testing during labour, couple counselling and testing, counsellor and organisational factors. Conclusions: According to research evidence, factors such as whether counselling is presented in a group or individually, different ways to present HIV testing as well as counsellor and organisational factors can influence counselling for HIV testing during pregnancy. When developing best practice guidelines for settings very dissimilar from where the research was done, research evidence must be contextualised. Relevance to clinical practice: Implementation of the best practice guidelines may lead to the increased uptake of HIV testing in pregnancy in developing countries like South Africa and thus to an increase in the number of women whose status is known when their babies are born.