Removing Barriers to Knowing HIV Status: Same-Day Mobile HIV Testing in Zimbabwe


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Abstract

Objectives:We developed a mobile HIV voluntary counseling testing (VCT) strategy. Our aims were (1) to describe those using the services, (2) to assess the acceptability of such services, (3) to assess reasons for not testing previously, and (4) to compare those who used the services with those who did not to determine how to increase acceptability.Methods:We provided free anonymous mobile VCT using 2 rapid HIV tests in 12 marketplaces in Epworth and Seke, Zimbabwe. Qualitative interviews were conducted to assess motivations for and barriers to testing. A subsample of HIV testers and individuals near testing vans who declined testing (nontesters) completed a questionnaire.Results:A total of 1099 individuals participated in mobile VCT between March 2002 and August 2003. The proportion of participants infected with HIV was 29.2%. Overall, 98.8% of participants elected to receive HIV test results the same day. Reasons for not testing previously were often logistic (eg, inconvenience of hours [25.6%] and location [20.7%] or cost [8%]). Those who used the same-day mobile testing services (testers vs. nontesters) perceived themselves at higher risk for HIV infection (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] = 1.8) but were less likely to have known people with HIV (AOR = 0.49) or where to get tested (AOR = 0.57).Conclusions:Same-day HIV testing in community settings seems to be acceptable in sub-Saharan Africa. Barriers to HIV testing are often logistic and can be overcome with community-based strategies. These strategies need to be refined to address the needs of those not using mobile testing services.

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