alexa From mandatory to voluntary testing: balancing human rights, religious and cultural values, and HIV AIDS prevention in Ghana.
Reproductive Medicine

Reproductive Medicine

Reproductive System & Sexual Disorders: Current Research

Author(s): Luginaah IN, Yiridoe EK, Taabazuing MM

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Abstract This paper examines efforts by some churches in Ghana to reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS. The analysis is based on focus group discussions with two groups of men and two groups of women, along with in-depth interviews with 13 pastors and marriage counsellors in the churches studied. In response to government and public criticisms about human rights violations, churches that previously imposed mandatory HIV testing on members planning to marry now have voluntary testing programmes. However, the results suggest that what the churches refer to as voluntary testing may not be truly voluntary. Cultural values and traditional practices, including traditional courtship and marriage rites (which are performed before church weddings), not only clash with considerations about pre-marital HIV testing but also complicate the contentious issue of confidentiality of information on HIV testing. Associated with these complexities and issues of confidentiality is a reluctance among participants, particularly those from northern Ghana, to test for HIV. The results reveal how broader social impacts of HIV testing for those planning to marry may extend beyond individuals or couples in different cultural contexts. The findings also support the general view that there are no perfect or easy solutions to combating the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Practical solutions and programs for Ghana cannot be neutral to cultural values and need to be tailored for particular (ethnic) populations. This article was published in Soc Sci Med and referenced in Reproductive System & Sexual Disorders: Current Research

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