Background In 2012, Brazil’s Ministry of Health (MoH), via its Department of STDs, AIDS and Viral Hepatitis, increased the availability of rapid testing for HIV diagnosis and syphilis screening by means of a government programme called Rede Cegonha (the Stork Network), allowing for the strengthening of actions to promote, prevent, and assist STD/AIDS patients in the primary care network by servicing pregnant women during their prenatal visits, with the aim of reducing vertical transmission of HIV and syphilis.
Methods The MoH purchases and distributes rapid tests (RTs) produced domestically. The process was initiated by sensitising local managers to the need for implementing RTs in primary care units. Healthcare professionals were selected and trained to conduct RTs and to provide counselling. The RTs were delivered and introduced into the service routine in order to assist pregnant women and their sexual partners.
Results 27 states adhered to the programme, with 2,500 municipalities adopting the methodology and a total of 1,031 professionals being trained. In 2012, 3.7 million RTs for HIV and 1.1 million RTs for syphilis were distributed.
Conclusion The government’s directive expedited the implementation process and the involvement of sanitary authorities. Rapid tests were found to be an agile and complementary tool in expanding access to diagnosis and speeding up the care needed to prevent and reduce vertical transmission of HIV and syphilis. This was an opportunity to update professionals and improve their approach, making it possible to provide integral care to pregnant women, their partners, and newborns.
- diagnostic testing in Brazil
- rapid testing and screening
- reduce vertical transmission