The recurrent ethical issue of non-respect of the confidentiality of HIV patients at one of the health facilities in the Djarem Division of the Adamoua Region due to the labelling of viral samples with patients’ names, instead of treatment code has been resolved.
This is one of the fallouts of Global Health Systems Solution (GHSS’) mentorship activities introduced at this site in January 2021, with the support of PEPFAR/CDC. Noticing the unethical practice of labelling viral load samples with patients’ names by the laboratory of this health facility, and understanding the effect of such an action on the mental and social wellbeing of the patients, GHSS’ Quality Assurance (QA) mentor, immediately swung into action to ameliorate the situation in February 2021.
Viral load sample management procedures were produced, and staff trained on the importance of confidentiality and professional ethics. They were equally schooled on plasma collection, labelling and conservation of viral load blood samples.
This intervention culminated in the respect of patients’anonymity, such that all 44 samples collected between March and April 2021 were given treatment codes and not labelled with the patient’s name, as was hitherto the case. This helped the patients in that health facility to gain confidence in the health facility given that it no longer gives room for any possibility of social discrimination or stigmatization.
The health facility in question, is one of the PEPFAR-supported sites in the Health district of Tibati, which is taking care of, and following up some 719 HIV patients in that part of Cameroon. Improving on patient confidentiality has led to more patient samples being collected for viral load testing. This will permit appropriate interventions in case of unsuppressed viral load, fostering HIV disease prevention and care.