Utilization of HIV Counselling and Testing Services in Urban and Rural Communities in Eastern Region of Ghana: Implications for Achieving Universal HCT Coverage
AbstractAlthough HIV Counselling and Testing (HCT) is a cornerstone to HIV prevention and treatment, only a few Ghanaians are aware of their HIV sero-status. To ensure that HCT functions as a gateway to AIDS-related care, the Ministry of Health/Ghana Health Service is working to achieve universal HIV testing coverage in the country by 2015. The aim of this study was to determine awareness of HCT as well as factors influencing utilization of HCT in Kwawu West Municipality. This was a cross sectional study which employed quantitative approaches. Nkawkaw township which, is a high-risk area for HIV infection, was selected for the study where 400 questionnaires were administered to community members. Data was entered and analyzed using EPI-INFO version 3.4.1. Descriptive statistics were run to describe the distribution of the data. Also, chi square test was run to demonstrate associations between the dependent and independent variables. The results showed high (89%) HCT awareness in the communities, yet only 29.2% of respondents have tested for HIV. Reasons for uptake included personal interest in knowing their HIV status (39.3%), pregnancy (22.2%), blood donation (11.1%) and for marriage purposes (10.2%). On the contrary, fear of knowing one’s status was a major reason why many did not test. Considering gaps in HCT awareness and uptake of services we propose that educational programmes on HCT must be developed and implemented across these communities. Also, educational programmes must, in addition to awareness creation, encourage uptake of HCT services.
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