Objectives: To determine the percentage of nurses initiating new HIV-positive patients on therapy within 2 months of attending the Nurse Initiation and Maintenance of Antiretroviral Therapy(NIMART) course, and to identify possible barriers to nurse initiation.
Methods: A brief telephonic interview using a structured questionnaire of a randomly selected sample (126/1736) of primary care nurses who had attended the NIMART course facilitated by the Foundation for Professional Development (FPD) between October 2010 and 31 March 2011 at primary care clinics in 7 provinces. Outcome measures were the number of nurses initiating ART within 2 months of attending the FPD-facilitated NIMART course.
Results: Of the nurses surveyed, 62% (79/126) had started initiating new adult patients on ART, but only 7% (9/126) were initiating ART in children. The main barrier to initiation was allocation to other tasks in the clinic as a result of staff shortages.
Conclusions: Despite numerous challenges, many primary care nurses working in the 7 provinces surveyed have taken on the responsibility of sharing the task of initiating HIV-positive patients on ART. The barriers preventing more nurses initiating ART include the shortage of primary care nurses and the lack of sufficient consulting rooms. Expanding clinical mentoring and further training in clinical skills and pharmacology would assist in reaching the target of initiating a further 1.2 million HIV-positive patients on ART by 2012.