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[procaare] Durban 2000: VCT - Making Voluntary Testing Work

  • From: KC Team <correspondents@hdnet.org>
  • Date: Thu, 12 Oct 2000 21:28:00 -0400 (EDT)

'Making Voluntary Testing Work'
Session - D26
Durban, 12 July 2000

Session Report

The session on making voluntary testing work brought together research from Nigeria, Thailand,
Zimbabwe, Central African Republic, Uganda and Morocco.

Research in Nigeria looked at the role of the church, specifically the Catholic Church, in
encouraging people to come forward for HIV Testing. It showed that the church could play a
significant role especially in Africa. It was recognised that Voluntary Counselling & Testing (VCT)
was still in its infancy in Nigeria. In the community studied, 98% had never attended an HIV/AIDS
awareness programme and consequently knowledge was poor. The pastor, at the local Catholic Church,
conducted pre and post counselling and accepted that condom usage was essential in order to stem the
epidemic. The recommendations included closer working partnerships between NGOs, Health Institutes
and the church.

The Study in Thailand showed that communication between couples was crucial in ensuring that any
intervention strategy, i.e. VCT, was effective. Programmes aimed at helping couples communicate
more openly, need to be included as an intervention strategy. The study also showed that there was
a lack of honesty between couples about whether or not they had gone for testing and what those
results were.

In Zimbabwe, the attitudes of health workers in a high density, peri-urban setting were terrifying.
In 1998, when the study was conducted, it revealed that health workers believed that knowledge of
HIV status could be more harmful to the patient. Nurses were reluctant to recommend testing as they
felt that there was nothing to offer the patient if they tested positive, and that they saw their
role as being curative. It should be acknowledged, however, that since this study more VCT centres
have opened around the country.

Dr Gresenguet from the Central African Republic gave evidence of the importance and impact on
prevention. Pre-test counselling was conducted prior to first testing testing and results given 7
days later prior to a confirmatory test. Reviewing the clients seeking VCT showed that HIV was more
prevalent amongst young girls with low education level.

The study conducted in Uganda looked at HIV risk characteristics. A population based study showed
that there were no risk characteristics significant for men. However, women with subsistence level
lifestyle were less likely to seek VCT that those with a higher level of education and that HIV+
women were significantly less likely to participate in VCT. The study concluded that VCT needs to
target high-risk populations, and that VCT programmes need to be designed to take into consideration
the context of individuals.

The VCT testing centre in Casablanca has been in operation for a number of years. However, testing
had remained relatively consistent until 1998. It was in 1998 that HAART became a treatment option
in Morocco. In 1998, 386 people came forward for testing whilst in 1999 704 - an 82% increase.

Could improved access to HAART increase VCT consultations?

AIDS2000 Key Correspondent
E-mail: correspondents@aids2000.com
(Coordinated by H&D Networks: www.hdnet.org)

For other Durban2000 session reports, visit www.hdnet.org

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