A Zika toolkit for family planning providers

Through ongoing research about the Zika virus, we have learned that it can impact pregnancies and be passed through sex. Providers of family planning care have expertise in preventing both unplanned pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections, making them uniquely important in efforts to reduce the impact of Zika. Yet a new article from the UCSF Bixby Center and US Office of Population Affairs (OPA) points out that "efforts to expand access to contraception in the context of Zika have lagged behind other equally important efforts, such as [mosquito] control, outreach to pregnant women, and testing."

To address this gap, the OPA has created a toolkit for family planning providers to counsel non-pregnant women and their partners about birth control in the context of Zika. The toolkit includes:

  • Basic information on the Zika virus.
  • Job aids for counseling about the risk of Zika and its implications for men and women for areas with and without active local transmission of the virus.
  • Client-centered counseling recommendations for preconception care and birth control.

While contraceptive counseling is an important part limiting the impact of the Zika virus, the authors emphasize that using any particular method is never the goal of client-centered counseling. "The goal of counseling about the risks associated with Zika is not to persuade clients to adopt certain behaviors or contraceptive methods, but rather to enable them to make informed, quality decisions that reflect their values and choices."

For health care providers seeking additional information and engagement about best practices, see the OPA Zika Community of Practice