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A women-only clinic for HIV, genitourinary medicine and substance misuse.
  1. G A McCarthy,
  2. A P Cockell,
  3. P D Kell,
  4. A S Beevor,
  5. F C Boag
  1. John Hunter Clinic, St Stephen's Clinic, London.


    OBJECTIVE--To evaluate a multidisciplinary women-only clinic (WOC) providing HIV testing, HIV follow-up, genitourinary screening and a substance misuse service. The clinic is designed to attract women who are at risk of acquiring sexually transmitted infections, including HIV, yet are not using existing medical services. DESIGN--A questionnaire survey and review of the case notes of women attending the WOC during the first seven months (April to October 1991) and comparison with a mixed-sex, daytime genitourinary clinic (John Hunter Clinic), and a HIV out-patients clinic (Kobler Centre) all within St Stephen's Clinic. RESULTS--One hundred and twenty-nine women attended the WOC over the seven month period and 113 completed a questionnaire. The main reasons for attendance included a preference to be seen by a female doctor and staff, the presence of female patients in the waiting area, and the greater convenience of an evening clinic. In the absence of the WOC over half the patients (56%) indicated that they would not have attended a genitourinary medicine (GUM) clinic. The WOC attracted significantly more new patients than in the JHC (31.5% vs 15% p < 0.001). One hundred and four women (81%) were screened for genitourinary infection. Compared with the JHC there were significantly more cases of genital warts (33.9% vs 16.1% p < 0.001) and candidosis (41.5% vs 22.3% p < 0.001). A greater number of HIV tests were also performed (19% vs 9% p < 0.01). Sixteen (12.4%) women were HIV positive. Their attendance record at both first appointment (88% vs 64% p < 0.05) and subsequent follow-up appointments (81% vs 43% p < 0.05) was significantly higher than a comparable group of women seen by the same doctor (FB) in the Kobler Centre. The women also saw the health adviser more frequently. Although the number of injecting drug users was small (eight), all women currently injecting drugs entered a detoxification programme. CONCLUSION--The WOC has become an established and popular service at St Stephen's. Women not previously using medical services are attending. The multidisciplinary nature of the clinic encourages a wider use of medical and paramedical services. Attendance record for HIV positive women has improved significantly. Whether these factors will lead to improved standards of sexual health will require a longer period of audit. Seventy-nine per cent of women indicated they would use a family planning service if available. An integrated family planning clinic was introduced after the audit period.

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