Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Parry calls for one-stop shops on sexual health
By Edwin Mbulo in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Tue 12 Nov. 2013, 14:00 CAT

HELEN Parry has called for the establishment of one-stop shops to integrate HIV, sexual and reproductive health in Africa.

Parry, a senior advisor on sexual reproductive health, told journalists during a training session ahead of the International Conference on Family Planning (ICFP2013) to be held at the African Union Conference Centre starting today, that integration of reproductive health and HIV programmes would help reduce costs of treatment and care.

"Integration is very much about practically joining up the services and interventions on the ground so that people get a full range of services; from HIV prevention, care, support and treatment if they are HIV positive and also looking at family planning and sexual and reproductive health needs such as contraceptive needs. In an ideal setting, one health care provider will be able to provide all of those things and we call that a one-stop-shop," Parry explained.

She said there was a clear link between reproductive health and HIV, in that most HIV infections globally are transmitted sexually or associated with pregnancy, child birth and breastfeeding.

"So obviously bringing these two things together can help address these issues. We know people living with sexually transmitted infections are more likely to be infected with HIV, so, looking at HIV and sexual reproductive health makes a lot of sense. Some of the root causes and the things that can impact on people's risk in relation to sexually transmitted infections, unsafe sex, potential HIV infections and some of the underlining issues such as poverty, gender norms, cultural practices are all the same," she said.

Parry said patients in rural areas walk long distances to access health care and everything must be done to ensure that a patient gets all the services at one visit.

"Joining services on the ground would greatly help because if a patient is coming for a health service, be it family planning or STI treatment or voluntary counselling and testing, the fact that the patient would have walked a distance to get there you would want to make sure that you provide her with all the services that she might possibly need as a patient in rural areas might not come again to the health centre in months," she said.

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