Tuberculosis patients' reasons for, and suggestions to address non-uptake of HIV testing : a cross-sectional study in the Free State Province, South Africa
Berg, van den, Henriette S.
Faculty of Social Sciences. Sociology
BMC health services research. - London
, p. 110,1-110,9
University of Antwerp
Background South Africa endorses the global policy shift from primarily client-initiated voluntary counselling and testing (VCT) to routine/provider-initiated testing and counselling (PITC). The reason for this policy shift has been to facilitate uptake of HIV testing amongst at-risk populations in high-prevalence settings. Despite ostensible implementation of routine/PITC, uptake amongst tuberculosis (TB) patients in this country remains a challenge. This study presents the reasons that non-tested TB patients offered for their refusal of HIV testing and reflects on all TB patients' suggestions as to how this situation may be alleviated. Methods In February-March 2008, a cross-sectional survey was conducted amongst 600 TB patients across 61 primary health care facilities in four sub-districts in the Free State. Patient selection was done proportionally to the numbers registered at each facility in 2007. Data were subjected to bivariate tests and content analysis of open-ended questions. Results Almost one-third (32.5%) of the respondents reported that they had not undertaken HIV testing, with the most often offered explanation being that they were 'undecided' (37.0%). Other self-reported reasons for non-uptake included: fear (e.g. of testing HIV-positive, 19.0%); perception of being at low risk of HIV infection (13.4%); desire first to deal with TB 'on its own' (12.5%); and because HIV testing had not been offered to them (12.0%). Many patients expressed the need for support and motivation not only from health care workers (33.3%), but also from their significant others (56.6%). Patients further expressed a need for (increased) dissemination of TB-HIV information by health care workers (46.1%). Conclusions Patients did not undergo HIV testing for various patient-/individual-related reasons. Non-uptake of HIV testing was also due to health system limitations such as the non-offer of HIV testing. Other measures may be necessary to supplement routine/provider-initiation of HIV testing. From the TB patient's perspective, there is a need for (improved) dissemination of information on the TB-HIV link. Patients also require (repeated) motivation and support to undergo HIV testing, the onus for which rests not only on the public health authority and health care workers, but also on other people in the patients' social support networks.