Sexual and reproductive health needs of HIV-positive women in Botswana – A study of health care worker’s views

Michelle M. Schaan, Myra Taylor, John Puvimanasinghe, Lesego Busang, Koona Keapoletswe, Richard Marlink

Publication Date: 09/01/2012

Botswana’s HIV prevalence is one of the highest in the world at 31.8% in the 15-49 years antenatal population. Being HIV-positive for a woman presents unique challenges with regard to sexuality, child bearing, and partner relations. To ensure optimal sexual and reproductive health (SRH) of HIV-positive women, it is important to understand how health care workers (HCWs) are prepared to address SRH issues such as contraception, fertility desires, and partner violence. This study reports on a knowledge, attitudes, and practices (KAP) questionnaire completed by 98 HCWs from clinics located in and nearby Gaborone and analyzed using descriptive and nonparametric statistics. The majority of participants were nurses (43%), health educators (27%), and lay counselors (19%), 82% female, median age of 35 (Interquartile Range (IQR): 29.25-43.75). General HIV/AIDS knowledge was high with a median score of 8.0/9 (89%) (IQR: 8-9). However, the median SRH knowledge score was much lower at 6.0/10 (60%) (IQR: 4-7). Of the three groups, the SRH knowledge scores of lay counselors were significantly lower than nurses (p=0.024). The attitude scores pertaining to issues such as family planning, sexual violence, the health system’s ability to offer SRH services, and personal ability to offer SRH services were moderately positive with a median score of 75% (IQR: 69-81%); although nearly 25% of respondents felt that it is irresponsible for an HIV-positive woman to want to have a child. When presented with a case study of an abused, HIV-positive pregnant woman, most respondents indicated they would offer supportive care without judgment; however 28% of respondents indicated they would express disapproval or disappointment for becoming pregnant when she knows she is HIV-positive. The low SRH knowledge scores together with discriminatory attitudes and practices emphasize the need for increased and ongoing training in SRH issues for all HCWs who provide care for HIV-positive women.