The role of trust and health literacy in nurse-delivered point-of-care STI testing for pregnant women living with HIV, Tshwane District, South Africa

Medina-Marino, Andrew; Glockner, Katherine; Grew, Emily; De Vos, Lindsey; Olivier, Dawie; Klausner, Jeffrey; Daniels, Joseph

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) during pregnancy result in neonatal morbidity and mortality, and may increase mother-to-child-transmission of HIV. Yet the World Health Organization’s current syndromic management guidelines for STIs leaves most pregnant women undiagnosed and untreated. Point-of-care (POC) diagnostic tests for STIs can drastically improve detection and treatment. Though acceptable and feasible, poor medication adherence and re-infection due to lack of partner treatment threaten the programmatic effectiveness of POC diagnostic programmes.

To engender patient-provider trust, and improve medication adherence and disclosure of STI status to sexual partners, we trained study nurses in compassionate care, good clinical practices and motivational interviewing. Using qualitative methods, we explored the role patient-provider communications may play in supporting treatment adherence and STI disclosure to sexual partners. Nurses were provided training in motivational interviewing, compassionate care and good clinical practices. Participants were interviewed using a semi-structured protocol, with domains including STI testing experience, patient-provider communication, and HIV and STI disclosure. Interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed and analyzed using a constant comparison approach.

Twenty-eight participants treated for Chlamydia trachomatis (CT), Trichomonas vaginalis (TV), and/or Neisseria gonorrhea (NG) were interviewed. Participants described strong communications and trusting relationships with nurses trained in patient-centered care training and implementing POC STI diagnostic testing. However, women described a delayed trust in treatment until their symptoms resolved. Women expressed a limited recall of their exact diagnosis, which impacted their ability to fully disclose their STI status to sexual partners.

We recommend implementing patient health literacy programmes as part of POC services to support women in remembering and disclosing their specific STI diagnosis to sexual partners, which may facilitate partner treatment uptake and thus decrease the risk of re-infection.


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BMC Public Health

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Published Here
September 22, 2023


Sexually transmitted infections, Point-of-care testing, Patient-provider communications, Pregnancy, HIV, South Africa