Background: HIV-positive women have an increased risk of developing cervical cancer (CC) compared to the HIV-negative women. Despite this, HIV and CC screening programs in many developing countries have remained disintegrated. Therefore, the objective of the study was to explore perceptions of healthcare providers (HCP) and policy makers (PM) about integration of HIV and CC screening services in Uganda. Methods: This was a qualitative study conducted among 16 participants comprising of 12 healthcare providers and 4 policy makers in Uganda. Data were collected through individual interviews. Participants were purposively selected from different level of health facilities with clinics for HIV and CC screening services. Content analysis method was used to analyze the data. Results: Three themes emerged from the data, namely appreciating benefits of integration, worrying about the limited health system capacity and potential consequences of integration and feeling optimistic about integration under improved health system conditions. The benefits embraced the women - particularly the HIV-positive women- but also men, healthcare providers and the health system or the government. There were worries that HIV stigma and shortage of healthcare workers would affect the effective delivery of the integrated program. Conclusion: Integration of HIV and CC screening can offer manifold benefits to all stakeholders in the health system, more so to the women. However, its feasibility in developing countries such as Uganda will most likely be hampered by weak and inefficient health systems. Therefore, when considering HIV and CC screening integration, it is important not to only recognize the benefits but also take into account resources requirements for addressing the existing weaknesses and inefficiencies in the health systems such as limited infrastructure, insufficient drugs and supplies, inadequate and poorly motivated healthcare workers.
Subject classification (UKÄ)
- Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology
- Cervical cancer