Background: About 40% of HIV-positive women in sub-Saharan Africa become pregnant post-diagnosis. Despite about half of their pregnancies being planned, safer conception methods (SCM) are underutilized among serodiscordant couples, partially due to the fact that safer conception counseling (SCC) has not been integrated into routine HIV family planning (FP) services.
Methods: Our Choice is a comprehensive FP intervention that promotes unbiased childbearing consultations to ensure clients receive SCC or contraception services to achieve their desired reproductive goals. The intervention is theoretically grounded and has demonstrated preliminarily feasibility and acceptance through pilot testing. This three-arm cluster randomized controlled trial compares two implementation strategies for integrating Our Choice into routine FP services vs. usual care. Six sites in Uganda will be randomized to receive either (1) Our Choice intervention with enhanced training and supervision provided by study staff (SCC1), (2) Our Choice intervention implemented by the Ministry of Health's standard approach to disseminating new services (SCC2), or (3) existing FP services (usual care). Our Choice and usual care FP services will be implemented simultaneously over a 30-month period. Sixty clients in serodiscordant relationships who express childbearing desires will be enrolled by a study coordinator at each site (n = 360) and followed for 12 months or post-pregnancy (once, if applicable). Analysis will compare intervention arms (SCC1 and SCC2) to usual care and then to each other (SCC1 vs. SCC2) on the primary outcome of correct use of either SCM (if trying to conceive) or dual contraception (if pregnancy is not desired). Secondary outcomes (i.e., pregnancy, use of prevention of mother-to-child transmission services, condom use, and partner seroconversion) and cost-effectiveness will also be examined.
Discussion: Findings will provide critical information about the success of implementation models of varying intensity for integrating SCC into FP, thereby informing policy and resource allocation within and beyond Uganda.
Trial registration: NCT03167879 ClinicalTrials.gov, Registered 30 May, 2017.
Keywords: HIV/AIDS; HIV prevention; Implementation science; Mother-to-child transmission; Pregnancy; Safer conception counseling; Safer conception methods; Serodiscordant; Sexual transmission; Sub-Saharan Africa.