Bedside paediatric HIV testing in Malawi: Impact on testing rates
Background Provider initiated testing and counselling (PITC) is recommended for all inpatients in Malawi if they have not been tested in the previous 3 months. However testing rates remain low among children. We audited the effect of implementing a bedside diagnostic HIV testing service to determine if it would improve testing rates amongst paediatric inpatients.
Methods We audited the existing HIV testing service to determine the numbers of children being tested for HIV. This was followed by the introduction of a bedside diagnostic service followed by re-audit. Bedside testing was facilitated by health systems strengthening measures including identification of suitable counsellors, appropriate supervision and remuneration.
Results In the initial audit in March-April 2014, 85 (63%) of 135 children had documented HIV tests.. Following implementation of the bedside HIV testing service, there was a significant increase in the proportion of children whose HIV status was known. On re-audit in July 2015, 110 (94.8%) of 116 children had documented HIV tests (p<0.001). Of those with documented tests, 94.5% had been tested within the last 3-months compared to 61% in 2014. Following the introduction of the service, the proportion of children tested for HIV during admission increased from 31.9% to 68.1% (p<0.001).
Conclusions Implementation of a bedside testing service at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital significantly increased HIV testing among paediatric inpatients. This has important implications in establishing earlier treatment, reducing HIV-associated morbidity and mortality.