Over one million people are estimated to be living with Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) in Uganda. The first Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) control program in Uganda was initiated in 1987. In 2000, as part of the implementation of the Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission Strategy by the Ugandan Ministry of Health, HIV testing was incorporated as a component of antenatal care (ANC). The government initiated the current âopt-outâ policy in 2006 whereby all mothers attending ANC will be tested for HIV unless they specifically decline. In cases of a positive diagnosis, women are treated, counseled, and educated regarding precautionary measures at the time of delivery as well as infant feeding practices. Women are also asked to disclose their status to partners and bring them in for testing.
A large body of literature has explored the acceptability of and barriers to accepting HIV testing during ANC. A study in 2003 found some of the barriers to accepting HIV testing during ANC were lack of HIV-testing facilities, unavailability of HIV counselling, and perceived lack of benefit for HIV infected women and their children. Later, in 2008, Dahl et al. found that most women refused testing because they first wanted to discuss being tested with their partners while a small proportion had confidentiality concerns and feared discrimination from the community or by the health care staff. Larsson et al also investigated womenâs experience with HIV testing during ANC using qualitative research methods. They found that women felt they did not have a choice in the matter and that they were obliged to be tested. This perceived lack of choice and the fact that men were free to choose, were identified as unfair. The authors concluded that perhaps these kinds of experiences may lead women to avoid seeking antenatal care, particularly from facilities that have on-site HIV testing. (Mumtaz Z, Merchant N, Levay A (2013) Factors Influencing the Uptake of HIV Testing During Antenatal Care in Rural Uganda)
Last date updated on July, 2014