The perspectives and practices of health care workers (HCWs) regarding disclosure to HIV-infected children have not been adequately investigated ten years after the roll-out of pediatrics antiretroviral therapy (ART). The aim of the study was to examine the opinions of HCWs about disclosure to HIV-infected children and determine their role in disclosure to children accessing ART in health centers in South Africa. This was a cross-sectional survey using a semi-structured questionnaire among HCWs in ART centers at three hospitals and 48 primary health facilities in two provinces in South Africa. Of the 206 HCWs, 140 (68.2%) were nurses, 44 (21.5%) were lay counsellors, and 4 (2%) were doctors. The majority (n = 183, 89.3%) felt that disclosure benefits children and they should be told about their HIV status. Over half (n = 93, 51.4%) recommended 11-18 years as the appropriate age to disclose. Half (n = 99, 48.5%) said that caregivers should take the lead to disclose, 87 (42.7%) said that disclosure is a shared responsibility of caregivers and HCWs, and 18 (8.8%) said HCWs should lead disclosure. HCWs perceived their role as that of preparing the caregiver for disclosure and the child to understand the disease. However, the lack of guidelines and training on disclosure counselling for children affects their ability to fully participate in disclosure to children. There is a need to adopt theWorldHealth Organizations' disclosure guidelines for children and adapt them to the local cultural and community contexts and train HCWs to guide, support, and assist caregivers in their disclosure to HIV-infected children.
- Disclosure guidelines
- Healthcare workers
- Perinatally infected children
- South Africa