Author(s): Fylkesnes K, Haworth A, Rosensvrd C, Kwapa PM, Fylkesnes K, Haworth A, Rosensvrd C, Kwapa PM
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Abstract OBJECTIVE: To examine factors affecting the readiness for HIV-related voluntary confidential counselling and testing (VCT). METHODS: In a population-based HIV survey in selected urban and rural areas in Zambia, adults aged > or = 15 years were selected by stratified random cluster sampling. The participants were asked to provide a saliva sample for anonymous HIV testing (n=4812, consent rate 93.5\%) and, as a part of an interview, were asked about previous HIV testing experience and if they wished to be counselled and tested for HIV. Those indicating interest (initially willing) were provided with an invitation letter to see a counsellor. In rural areas, VCT was provided by personnel brought in from outside the local community, whereas in urban areas it was provided by locally recruited staff. RESULTS: The overall HIV test rate was 6.5\%, but rates appeared to be considerably biased towards higher educational groups. The proportion initially willing was 37\% while 3.6\% actually came for counselling and were tested (9.3\% of those initially willing), of which 47\% returned for the result. Actual use was four to five times higher in rural compared with urban areas. Self-perceived risk and high-risk behaviour were positively associated with initial willingness but not with actual use. CONCLUSIONS: The readiness for VCT in the general population was found to be very low. Provision factors such as concerns about confidentiality and length of time waiting for the test result contributed to the low utilization rate. Results of this study contrast sharply with reported VCT acceptance rates of 70-90\% among women attending antenatal care in Zambian and in other African populations, suggesting an urgent need to evaluate testing policy and practice of antenatal VCT in particular.
This article was published in AIDS
and referenced in Journal of AIDS & Clinical Research