Collections > UNC Scholarly Publications > BioMed Central > Training health care workers to promote HIV services for patients with tuberculosis in the Democratic Republic of Congo

Abstract Background HIV counseling and testing, HIV prevention and provision of HIV care and support are essential activities to reduce the burden of HIV among patients with TB, and should be integrated into routine TB care. Methods The development of training materials to promote HIV services for TB patients involved the definition of target health care workers (HCWs); identification of required tasks, skills and knowledge; review of international guidelines; and adaptation of existing training materials for voluntary counseling and testing, prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV, and management of opportunistic infections (OIs). Training effectiveness was assessed by means of questionnaires administered pre- and post-training, by correlating post-training results of HCWs with the centre's HIV testing acceptance rates, and through participatory observations at the time of on-site supervisory visits and monthly meetings. Results Pre-training assessment identified gaps in basic knowledge of HIV epidemiology, the link between TB and HIV, interpretation of CD4 counts, prevention and management of OIs, and occupational post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP). Opinions on patients' rights and confidentiality varied. Mean test results increased from 72% pre-training to 87% post-training (p < 0.001). Important issues regarding HIV epidemiology and PEP remained poorly understood post-training. Mean post-training scores of clinic's HCWs were significantly correlated with the centre's HIV testing acceptance rates (p = 0.01). On-site supervisory visits and monthly meetings promoted staff motivation, participatory problem solving and continuing education. Training was also used as an opportunity to improve patient-centred care and HCWs' communication skills. Conclusion Many HCWs did not possess the knowledge or skills necessary to integrate HIV activities into routine care for patients with TB. A participatory approach resulted in training materials that fulfilled local needs.