Barriers to accessing cervical cancer screening among HIV positive women in Kgatleng district, Botswana : a qualitative study

Matenge, Tjedza G. ; Mash, Bob (2018)

CITATION: Matenge, T. G. & Mash, B. 2018. Barriers to accessing cervical cancer screening among HIV positive women in Kgatleng district, Botswana : a qualitative study South Africa. PLoS ONE, 13(10): e0205425, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0205425.

The original publication is available at https://journals.plos.org/plosone/

Article

Background: Low and middle-income countries have a greater share of the cervical cancer burden, but lower screening coverage, compared to high-income countries. Moreover, screening uptake and disease outcomes are generally worse in rural areas as well as in the HIV positive population. Efforts directed at increasing the screening rates are important in order to decrease cancer-related morbidity and mortality. This study aimed to explore the barriers to women with HIV accessing cervical cancer screening in Kgatleng district, Botswana. Methods: A phenomenological qualitative study utilising semi-structured interviews with fourteen HIV positive women, selected by purposive sampling. The interviews were transcribed verbatim and the 5-steps of the framework method, assisted by Atlas-ti software, was used for qualitative data analysis. Results:Contextual factors included distance, public transport issues and work commitments. Health system factors highlighted unavailability of results, inconsistent appointment systems, long queues and equipment shortages and poor patient-centred communication skills, particularly skills in explanation and planning. Patient factors identified were lack of knowledge of cervical cancer, benefits of screening, effectiveness of treatment, as well as personal fears and misconceptions. Conclusion: Cervical cancer screening was poorly accessed due to a weak primary care system, insufficient health promotion and information as well as poor communication skills. These issues could be partly addressed by considering alternative technology and one-stop models of testing and treating.

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