BACKGROUND. Since 2008, the Medicines Information Centre (MIC) has run the South African National HIV & TB Health
Care Worker Hotline which provides free information on patient treatment to all healthcare workers in South Africa. With
the introduction of nurse-initiated management of antiretroviral therapy (NIMART) in the public sector, the need for easy
access to HIV and tuberculosis (TB) information has increased, especially among nurses. The hotline aims to provide this, most
importantly to nurses in rural areas, where clinical staff often have little access to peer review.
OBJECTIVE. To describe the queries received from nurses by the hotline between 1 March and 31 May 2012 and identify problem
areas and knowledge gaps where nurses may require further training.
METHODS. All queries received from nurses during the study period were analysed. An experienced information pharmacist
reviewed all queries to identify knowledge gaps.
RESULTS. During the study period, the hotline received a total of 1 479 HIV- and TB-related queries from healthcare workers.
Of these, 386 were received from nurses, of which 254 (66%) were NIMART-trained. The most common query subtopic was
initiating antiretroviral therapy (ART) (20%), followed by adverse drug reactions (18%). The most common knowledge gap
identified was the ability to interpret laboratory results before initiating ART (10%).
DISCUSSION. We conclude that the hotline is providing clinical help to an increasing number of nurses on the topic of treating
HIV and TB throughout South Africa. In addition, queries directed to the hotline may assist in identifying knowledge gaps for
the further training of nurses.