Integrating Family Planning into HIV Services
By Eric Kilongi | July 15, 2013
In Kenya’s Rongo District Hospital, the Maisha project is supporting efforts to make reproductive health care services available as part of regular HIV care and treatment programs.
Efforts to enhance the facility’s performance began in 2012, when the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF) – together with the Kenya National AIDS and STI Control Program (NASCOP) –developed a tool to track progress towards the elimination of mother to child transmission of HIV (EMTCT). The new tool provided data that helped health workers capture information and identify HIV-positive women attending antenatal clinics. Many of these women had advanced HIV, which severely compromised their immunity, putting their lives at risk and increasing the risk of mother-to-child transmission of HIV.
To address this issue, the facility began providing family planning services to all women of reproductive age enrolled in HIV care and treatment services. All HIV-positive women visiting the facility were given information on how to prevent transmission of HIV to their children, and materials on long-term family planning methods.
In addition, the clinic recently began to incorporate HIV-services with its regular outpatient care programs in order to reduce the stigma associated with being HIV-positive. By integrating HIV services into outpatient offerings, all services to clients regardless of their HIV status are provided within the same building by the same set of clinicians. Patients who do not know their status are encouraged and counseled to get an HIV test, while those who know their status are treated.
As a result of these efforts, 90 percent of the patients seen through outpatient services in the district hospital in 2012 were counseled and tested for HIV. Outside of the Rongo facility, 11 of the 30 Maisha-supported facilities in Nyanza are now providing family planning as part of HIV services.
With more women learning their HIV status and opting to use family planning practices to have an HIV-negative child, the chances of infants getting infected with HIV are becoming slimmer, moving us closer to the elimination of pediatric HIV in Kenya.
Eric Kilongi is Senior Communications Officer for the Foundation, based in Washington, D.C.